The social media app from France that claims to be the real deal hit over 50m downloads this month, but long term, can BeReal sustain its growth, unique edge and expand beyond its mainly Gen Z user base?
What’s fascinating about the popularity for the app is that its gained so much profile for being about real, authentic pictures, shared with friends, with no advertising, filters, influencers or other fake traits aligned to other platforms. However, that’s kind of it. Your friends are the only ones who can see the picture you share for one day only (if you’re set to private, discovery lets others see you), much like stories on other apps. The app itself sends out the random notification when its time to “be real”, at any point within the day, and you then take a picture within a 2-minute window once a day, which automatically takes a front and rear camera shot.
We’ve seen concepts spread widely and be quickly mimicked by other platforms, remember peak Clubhouse? Twitter has perhaps most successfully kept the audio format through Twitter Spaces. Clubhouse still has about 10m users and has recently gained some investment but it dropped off following its huge burst onto the scene. Likewise, functionality like stories didn’t work for everyone. After Instagram took significant share from SnapChat after it launched stories, others soon followed suit. Literally nobody in the universe felt the need to keep up with connections’ stories on LinkedIn, which was swiftly dropped, as were Twitter Moments. It’s no surprise that YouTube are pushing their ‘shorts’ in response to TikToks’ success too for example.
But back to BeReal, are we going to see others mimicking its format? We already are and it’s by the juggernauts TikTok and Instagram who are now letting users use the same front and back camera format within posts that give a similar effect to the BeReal pictures. TikTok are quick to integrate trends so that’s no surprise and while it’s not the same as the notification to ‘BeReal’, you do wonder whether that format alone is enough to keep the platform growing. BeReal memes continue to crop up on other platforms too.
BeReal doesn’t have a chat function, in fact all comments/pictures you post in response to friends’ posts can be seen by all friends, even if your account is set to private and if someone’ account is set to ‘discovery’ then anyone can find their pictures and comments/reactions – a factor many safety groups have discussed when it comes to younger users exploring the platform.
And while there is no advertising (yet) the app does collect its fair share of data, so monetising the app is not too far away but its more likely to be in-app purchases with intrusive ads out of the picture (for now). It’s recently raised $30m in funding, and to date investments have been its only source based on its long-term capabilities.
The lack of creator content on BeReal could be its downfall, according to Steven Bartlett, former CEO of Social Chain and no stranger to digital trends among youth audiences.
But with around 10m daily users across Europe and the US and ongoing growth in downloads, there’s no sign we’ve reached peak ‘realness’ just yet. Is it one for brands and corporate accounts? Not yet, but an awareness of trends and how these are being applied on TikTok and Instagram and in meme culture may just be enough to keep you in the conversation, as is the clear appetite for a shift away from overly curated, filtered content.