New App BeReal is changing the Social Media Landscape

Social media, as we know it, has been drastically evolving in the past few years. Recent apps like TikTok have popularized short form videos for entertainment. The rise in influencer marketing and sponsored ads on platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok has grown tremendously. It seems like the social media world is leaning towards a very curated content era. However, apps like BeReal are slowly starting to grow in popularity among Gen Z. A growing interest in apps that do not offer typical ads and user collaboration prompts the question:  Are younger consumers wanting a more straightforward and authentic social media experience?

Before we discuss the new wave of social media usage, what is BeReal? 

Becoming popular for having a more “real” perception of others on social media, this France based app has had major growth in the past year. Around 921,000 monthly active users (MAU) were recorded in  July 2021 compared to 73.5 million MAU in August 2022*. This rapid growth for the app is largely attributed to its new style of using social media.

The founders of BeReal have focused the app to create a more authentic social media experience. It promotes genuine expression of your life and is focused on sharing unedited and “real” pictures of yourself day-to-day.  Everyday, BeReal randomly notifies users. After the notification, users have only two minutes to take a picture of what they are doing. When they take a photo, it captures both the front and rear camera!

The layout of the app is different from other social media platforms.  Instead of having friends “follow” you to see a feed, your friends can only see the BeReal posted that day. Not only does this lighten the pressure of having an “aesthetic feed”, but it also promotes authenticity because users have to post a BeReal to view their friend’s BeReals.  

How is BeReal actually authentic?

  • Friends can see if users post late, including how late they posted.
  • Users can view how many times their friends retake the BeReal.
  • The app does not have traditional “likes” and instead encourages photos with a live reaction.
  • Users cannot follow someone, they can only add friends.. Having a friend means you both see each other’s BeReals, which removes the idea of influencers and celebrities posting content to gain a following.
  • Each user can only see their personal information including past BeReals and friend count.
  • The app contains no filters, no editing options, and no sponsorships or ads.
How is BeReal changing the social media landscape?
 
BeReal is making a dramatic shift within the social media marketing space. Without the presence of sponsors and ads on BeReal, brands lose the opportunity to engage with their consumers. Some brands have tried to work around this. For example, Chipotle had members of their marketing team wait for the BeReal notification in Times Square where there was a prominent billboard for Chipotle.** Although they cannot put advertisements on the app itself, engaging consumers with trendy content could be a great opportunity. However, considering the mission for the ‘real’ social media, BeReal’s lack of  advertisements will cause many brands to miss out on data tracking, measuring consumer behavior, and collecting ad revenue from BeReal users.
 
TikTok has even started to create their own version of BeReals, calling it TikTok Now. With platforms like TikTok joining in on the trend, it is evident that BeReal is having a relevant impact on how other social media platforms are evolving to find new ways to appeal to consumers. 
 
Moving forward it will be interesting to note how this rise of simple and genuine social media affects the industry. 
  • Will BeReal adopt ads from other social media platforms? 
  • Will apps like Snapchat and Instagram begin to make their own version of capturing a more authentic depiction of your day to day life? 
Considering Gen Z is the main audience using BeReal, the newest generation may shift the norms of social media and create a spurred sense of making social media “casual” again. 

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