BeReal: the social media app taking over our phones
Just when you think you've seen every social media you could, someone comes up with yet another unique way to share our lives with friends and strangers.
These days, people are joining a new and fast-rising social trend. Besides taking part in heated conversations on Facebook, posting polished lifestyle stories on Instagram, or sharing obscure life hacks on TikTok, they are also “being real” on BeReal.
What’s different about BeReal
BeReal is essentially a photo-sharing app, just like Instagram. The twist is you can’t share any picture at any time. Plus, you have little control over what kind of picture you share.
The idea is simple. Once a day, the app sends a notification to you and the people on your friends list. Then, you have a two-minute window to post a candid picture of what you see and yourself at the same time. But aren’t those two pictures? No, they’re not. Because BeReal uses both the front and rear cameras simultaneously to post a large picture of what you see and a small picture of your face at that exact moment.
Furthermore, the app offers extra incentives for “keeping it real.” If you miss the two-minute deadline or re-take the photo for a better-looking outcome, you can still post on BeReal. But your friends will know how late you were and how many times you re-took the photo. Therefore, they’ll know you’re not “for real.” And, maybe, express their disapproval with a “Realmoji” — a photo of them imitating an emoji.
So, what’s the point of being “real” for a single moment every day? According to the app makers, to be authentic and “to discover who your friends really are in their daily life.”
Better late than never
It took some time for BeReal to gain serious traction among mobile users outside France, the app’s country of origin. It was first released in 2020 by developers Alexis Barreyat and Kevin Perreau but made no noise, attracting only a couple of million users in two years.
But 2022 was BeReal’s year. The app made a thundering comeback riding on a paid ambassador program aimed at college campuses. Recent reports talk about over 56 million downloads and a booming presence in the US market. This sudden mass appeal resulted in new and more generous funding for BeReal’s founders, and now the future looks bright for the humble social app.
Besides, it poses an alternative to established social media, where users always complain that people show skewed, curated, or downright fake versions of their lives. Just like when Snapchat or TikTok came along and relied on their distinctive features to attract users from other apps.
Surviving in a competitive market
So, can BeReal become the next TikTok?
Probably the first ones wondering were the people over at TikTok. That’s why they hurried to copy the photo-sharing app’s core feature by rolling out TikTok Now, a daily prompt for users to share candid photos or videos using both cameras at once. Meanwhile, Snapchat has introduced a dual-camera function, and Instagram has tested a new feature named IG Candid, which is actually a BeReal clone.
Analysts have pointed out that BeReal’s Achilles heel may be its features being easy to duplicate. At the same time, the app remains free of intrusive functions and algorithms designed to get you hooked or monetize your engagement. Simply put, it currently has no means of making money other than growing in numbers and attracting funding.
Being a simple, authenticity-driven, non-addictive, and influencer-free social app is BeReal’s unique selling point. To survive, it might be a good idea to keep it that way.
Perhaps that’s what Barreyat and Perreau are thinking too. According to reports by The Financial Times, their next projected move is to roll out paid-for features (e.g., in-app purchases) and keep their core product forever free and “authentic.”
Let’s see if BeReal is here to stay.