BeReal: the Power of Authenticity in a Curated World
Did anyone ever truly believe social media could be kicked to the curb? Back in 2018, some users thought so. But the reality of social usage tells a different story: according to Statista, the number of United States users on social has been steadily growing year over year, with the prediction being more growth to come. Perhaps social’s ability to survive is no surprise: new apps keep emerging all the time to keep users engaged. One example? BeReal.
BeReal is the (currently) ad-free photo-sharing app that allows users to post two images within a two-minute window. Users receive a notification once a day, at random times, prompting them to take the photos; one from the front camera, one from the back. The app then combines the images into a single post, resizing the selfie to fit into the corner of the back camera shot. BeReal has no filters, no edit buttons, and does not allow videos. Follower counts are not displayed. The conceit is that the window of opportunity is too short for curated images, resulting in snapshots more reflective of a user’s “real life.”
Gen Z in particular, with its penchant for raw, less polished content, has embraced BeReal as a way to connect with friends. As college student Meredith Mueller puts it, the app is “a judgment-free zone,” down-to-earth enough that users are spared the inherent pressure to always look good.
The app may also be the poster child for the small moments in life. Chris Stedman, the author of IRL: Finding Our Real Selves in a Digital World, in commenting on BeReal’s appeal, had this to say: “I do think one of the big challenges people feel on social media is I’m seeing everybody else’s highlight reel, but I’m experiencing the fullness of my own life with all of the mundane stuff. To be able to get this reminder that everyone else’s lives largely are made up of mundane moments too, I can definitely see some value in that.”
BeReal is currently, and proudly, a no-ads zone, but some brands are creating a presence on the platform anyway, particularly those looking to connect with a Gen Z audience. Erika Priestly, the VP of global marketing for computer peripheral and software manufacturer Logitech, notes that BeReal is “where our target is, and therefore we need to be there, too.” To that end, in the days leading up to the holidays 2022, Logitech used BeReal to promote its annual “12 Days of Deals” campaign. With the goal of driving email sign-ups and purchases on Logitech’s website, the brand posted images of Elf on the Shelf next to products chosen to appeal to the Gen Z audience. This wasn’t an ad in the traditional sense, and its efficacy was measured differently also. In fact, Priestly has said that BeReal has her team thinking about value beyond the typical metrics like click-throughs: the focus, instead, is on brand health.
Tressie Lieberman, VP of digital marketing and off-premise at Chipotle, concurs. For Lieberman, BeReal is a good complement to the brand’s other social accounts—not so much a way of reaching new customers, she notes, as a means of making existing Chipotle fans “feel like they’re happy to be a part of this smaller group.” How does that vibe manifest? In Chipotle’s case, BeReal has been an engine for sharing exclusive brand codes and content, giving followers a first look at a “Buy the Dip” campaign, for example.
TikTok (and Others) Respond
Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, TikTok has signaled it considers the BeReal phenom to be more than a fad. Last September, TikTok announced a new offering, TikTok Now, which invites users to post spontaneous videos or images. The similarities between the apps are striking: it’s essentially the same premise (spontaneity, a daily notification), but in TikTok Now there is the option of video (which can be 10 seconds long), and a slightly larger three-minute window in which to post.
Instagram has also joined the party. In December, the platform debuted Candid Stories, their own take on the “what are you doing right now?” phenom. The takeaway here? BeReal is here to stay—at least for a while.
Whether BeReal and its imitators will thrive for the long haul remains to be seen (remember Clubhouse?). But there’s no denying that, for the time being at least, BeReal seems to have tapped into a need—and the Gen Z market.
Eager to experiment with how BeReal might elevate your brand? If the answer is yes, we recommend that you:
- Be authentic. The BeReal audience isn’t looking for polish—in fact, perfect posts come across as a little suspect. To embrace the BeReal phenom, brands will need to be comfortable with raw, unedited, and unfiltered images.
- Be creative. In the ad-free zone of BeReal, brands are invited to get creative and think outside the box. Are you prepared to create a connection with your audience in a fresh way, one that doesn’t fall back on the usual advertising tropes?
- Be ready. Establish a team member (or an entire team) as dedicated BeReal reps. Because of the random nature of the daily notification, staffers will need to understand that they’ll be, in essence, “on call.” They’ll also need to have the autonomy to post in real time without constraint; there will be no time for a complicated approvals process, for example.
Contact True Interactive
If your brand is intrigued by the prospect of less curated content, we can work with you to figure out if incorporating a platform like BeReal into your marketing strategy makes sense. Contact us. We’re ready to help!