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“We want to make people feel good about themselves and their lives. We want an alternative to addictive social networks fueling social comparison and portraying life with the goal of amassing influence.”
Let's find out what the fuss is all about BeReal...
Being Real for 2 Minutes a Day
Authenticity: There’s this photo-sharing app called BeReal. You may have heard of it already. It’s only 2 years old and last month it became the most downloaded free app on the iOS AppStore.
That’s no mean feat to replace TikTok!
- Market research firm Sensor Tower estimates that it has now been installed 20 million times. Apptopia estimates its total downloads is higher at 29.5 million. Between March and July, BeReal saw 85% of its total lifetime downloads at 20.2 million, according to data from data.ai
So What? BeReal is an app with momentum. At a time when Facebook, Instagram and TikTok are moving away from friends and towards curated content, BeReal is appealing to those who want to be closer to their friends. Just like it used to be in the early days of social media.
BeViral: A sure fire indicator that BeReal is the app to watch right now is when it goes viral on other platforms, like TikTok and Twitter.
Here’s How It Works:
1: Users get one notification a day, every day. They don’t know when they’re going to get a notification, just that they will get one, sometime, today.
2: The notification headline will say “⚠️Time to beReal⚠️” Followed by this message: “2 min left to capture a BeReal and see what your friends are up to!”
3: The user then literally has 2 minutes to take a photo, wherever they are and whatever they’re up to.
- Innovation: The cool thing about the app is that it takes a pic with both the front and the back facing cameras at the same time. That's right, it takes a selfie then puts the two pics together. The last time this was tried was over a decade ago with an app called FrontBack, who are most famous for shutting down only 2 years after turning down a $40 million offer from Twitter.
4: The point is that all of your friends post at exactly the same time. Everyone in the friendship group gets to see what everyone else is up to, all at the same time. Friends can comment and react within the group as everyone shares their own experiences.
5: But, here's the rub. Miss the 2 minute mark and you can’t post your pics or see those of anyone else. Facebook tried a similiar feature like this called Slingshot in the early days of Snapchat. Users had to post a pic on Slingshot before the app would let them see the pics of their friends.
Spontaneity: BeReal is spontaneous. It captures an authentic moment in time without it being contrived, edited or photo-shopped. There’s no fake imagery or misleading lifestyle impressions going on here.
This is the anti-Instagram app that promises it will never make anyone famous. That’s because BeReal images simply can’t go viral. They’re not meant to either.
Antidote To Addiction: For such a young app, it has a nostalgic feel about it, like the early days of Twitter or before Facebook introduced the algorithmic News Feed.
- But it’s not the nostalgia that grabs my attention. It’s the anti-addiction qualities of BeReal.
No To Editing: For a start, the app does not allow users to edit their photos. There are no filters to enhance appearance and the 2 minute countdown restricts artificially creating an unreal scenario.
Most importantly, although friends can react to the pics of others, there are no like or share buttons. The app does not create the addiction of constantly checking to see if anyone has liked your post.
BeReal told CNN they were aiming to create
- "an alternative to addictive social networks".
- “a chance to show friends who they really are in an authentic way."
- “BeReal won't make you famous; if you want to become an influencer, you can stay on TikTok and Instagram."
BeReal Has Some Big Money Behind It.
Momentum: In a relatively short space of time for a social media app, BeReal has created momentum. That doesn't mean it’ll be the next TikTok, yet.
We saw Clubhouse establish momentum at the start of 2021, only to loss it within 6 months. Now Clubhouse is turning itself into a community of smaller houses to create closer connections in an effort to regain what it had and lost.
Who knows whether BeReal will continue the momentum, but it has some big money behind it already. Andreessen Horowitz led a $30 million Series A last summer. This summer, Facebook investor DST Global was reportedly leading an $85 million raise. Valuing BeReal at $600 million.
Here's what they say:
“Users must agree not to use BeReal for advertising or commercial purposes to publish or facilitate the transmission of advertising, commercial solicitations, spam, “chain letters”, “pyramid schemes” or to collect information, data or Content about other Users without their permission."
So, What’s The Fuss? Behind the curiosity and urgency of knowing what your friends are up to at the same time as you, the reality is that all BeReal does is reveal how mundane most people's lives are.
This is a marmite experience for most folk.
If you remember the early days of Twitter, when people would tweet things like “I’m watering the garden”, “Here’s a picture of some trees”, or “Don’t ya just love chocolate buttons,” it was the naïve innocence of it all that appealed to many and was pointless for the rest.
Pointless Or Refreshing? BeReal is like that. I’ve tried it, but only have a friends on it to, so it’s early days. TBH, I'm not sure this is for me, but I'm giving it a go!
Mundane Is The Point Of BeReal
Anti Social: It's no coincidence that the rising popularity of BeReal comes at a time of growing anti-Instagram sentiment.
Casey Newton summed it up like this: “It seems notable that the app is on the rise at the same time I’m seeing more and more viral angst about what Instagram is becoming.”
Anti Instagram: At the heart of the anti-Instagram sentiment is the shift from seeing what your friends are doing to a feed of viral content from strangers. Instagram users simply don’t want that TikTok effect and have made their feelings known.
BeReal gives Instagram users what they feel they’ve lost as Insta becomes a second-hand TikTok.
Anti Fake: There’s another possible reason for BeReal’s popularity. Garbage Day’s Ryan Broderick argues BeReal is “part of the same trend as Wordle.”
What Next For BeReal?
15 Mins Of Fame: So, where does BeReal go from here? It's got momentum, a bagful of cash and some serious advisors behind it.
But, the novelty of the 2 minute timer won’t last long. And users will inevitably get bored looking at the same pics of their friends sat at their desks in the home office. (Let’s face it, most of us are in the same place most of the time).
Innovation Demand: Just as Clubhouse ran out of steam pretty quickly or Twitter failed to do anything in a decade despite its brand advantage, the same fate awaits BeReal. That is unless it can be as innovative as SnapChat and develop new features and tricks that keep the users engaged.
Watch this space...
Some Tweets About BeReal
❤️ People are even falling in love on BeReal: Brooke & Connor Make a Podcast on TikTok
Protocol: BeReal wants close connections. Can it stay that way forever?
Casey Newton: Why BeReal is breaking out
Vice: BeReal Review: The Only Good Social Media App
Parents: BeReal Is a New 'Unfiltered' Social Media App—Is It Safe for Kids?
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