Has the time to BeReal gone?
Ever keen to adopt exciting, new social media platforms, it was no surprise that BeReal spread like wildfire throughout our marketing team as well as Gen Z alike over the past year.
Originally launched in 2019, the photo-sharing platform exploded into popularity in 2022 with its premise of a “new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life” a welcome break from the curated feeds of Instagram and TikTok.
By November 2022, BeReal had reached number one in the App Store, knocking TikTok off its top perch. However, within three months, the French-based app’s popularity looks to be in decline. According to date from Apptopia (via Business of Apps), it is estimated to have hit 20 million daily active users in October 2022, but that’s now dropped to 10.4 million.
So, what’s going wrong for the social media platform? Before we discuss that, we need to look at what we liked about it first…
How does BeReal work?
Quite simply, it gives users a notification once a day to ‘Be Real’. The user then takes a photo on the BeReal app using the front and back camera to show their followers what they are doing at that moment. With no filters, no editing, and ‘authenticity’ and ‘spontaneity’ the message BeReal is trying to push.
By taking a single photo per day within a two-minute window, signaled by a notification to document what’s happening there and then, its intention is in the moment photos and being ‘real.’
A flawed proposition or a temporary glitch?
Finally, an app that gives us respite from the fakeness of social media…or is it?
Falling figures suggest that the app has reached its peak but is it too soon to call it a passing fad?
Although its intent is for users to take a picture once a day at a designated time, it is possible for a user to post late, but users will be notified – as well as told how many times the photo was retaken. This has left some users feeling that it’s another curated platform akin to Instagram and Snapchat stories to stay on top of each day, rather than an authentic snapshot into our daily lives.
Many have also questioned BeReal’s long-term business model, in particular its reluctance to introduce new features.
Investors, in particular, have urged the platform to introduce features or paid-for extras to avoid it becoming a “one-hit wonder” the likes of Houseparty and Clubhouse. However, when your USP is authenticity, it’s difficult to advance your platform without compromising your initial selling point.
Can it really be an effective marketing tool?
The app currently prohibits advertising, but some brands are still using BeReal’s uniqueness to their advantage, posting snapshots from meetings or everyday office life to help clients or customers view the brand in a different light.
In the US, Chipotle was one of the first major brands to use the platform, sharing reusable promo codes in its posts for a week that were redeemed in less than a minute. Beauty brand E.l.f. also took to the platform to give users exclusive access to behind-the-scenes content, such as product drop sneak peeks and photo shoots.
It’s very much new ground for these brands, having to tread a fine balance between the platforms demand for authenticity and well-organised pre-planned promotional content. But for BeReal to survive, it may need to capitalise on its success and appeal more to the brands and creators its user base initially joined to escape.
How have other platforms responded?
Many platforms have already emulated some of BeReal’s features, continuing the trend of social media companies to increasingly ‘borrow’ ideas from each other and repurposing them as their own.
TikTok were quick to launch their own version of BeReal with ‘TikTok Now’, dedicating a whole tab along the bottom of the app straight from launch, with Meta following suit and are currently entering a trial stage of their ‘Roll call’ feature.
Is the future for being real bright?
The big question is will BeReal stick to its guns, or will it adapt to meet the demand for growing its user base and revenue?
Only time will tell but with a rapid decline in users and downloads combined and growing pressure from investors, the platform will need to decide soon.
In our opinion, it’s still too early to write off the app completely. But what BeReal has shown is that there is that the landscape, once renowned for its influencers and filters is changing. People want something new and perhaps this is what BeReal has embraced. We’re curious to see where this change in appetite leads and whether the demand for more authentic content lies within the same social media space it’s rebelling against.