Thinkhouse

SOCIAL UPDATE: To BeReal or Not to BeReal?

BeReal has taken the world by storm in just a few short weeks. The app is actively fighting against the standards we’ve adjusted to on photo-sharing apps such as Instagram or VSCO, in which everything is filtered or hyper-polished. BeReal is becoming popular as a more casual form of social media, more akin to sending a text than posting a feed photo to Instagram, and has steadily moved up the App Store’s top app charts in the earlier half of 2022. Year-to-date, its monthly active users have grown 315%. Its slogan, “Your Friends for Real," sums the app up in four words. It’s truly a social media built for socializing.

THE WHAT:

Everyday at a different time, users are notified simultaneously to capture and share a Photo in 2 Minutes. The app takes simultaneous photos from the both front and back cameras on your phone, so you see not only what the user is doing, but where they are as well. The 2 minute time limit restricts your ability to stage and edit shots, and the app broadcasts exactly how many takes it took you, encouraging users to be authentic. The app also promises to feature how many times a user views their own photo, in a potential bid to have users live in the moment and not focus on what they’ve posted.

THE WHAT:

Everyday at a different time, users are notified simultaneously to capture and share a Photo in 2 Minutes. The app takes simultaneous photos from the both front and back cameras on your phone, so you see not only what the user is doing, but where they are as well. The 2 minute time limit restricts your ability to stage and edit shots, and the app broadcasts exactly how many takes it took you, encouraging users to be authentic. The app also promises to feature how many times a user views their own photo, in a potential bid to have users live in the moment and not focus on what they’ve posted.

In a complete move from the typical app landscape, the entire app seems to be actively dissuading users from spending time on it. Until you’ve posted your daily pic, you cannot view your friends photos, so no mindless scrolling and procrastination.

Finally, the app doesn’t do the typical “Likes” rollout. Where other apps have began removing likes altogether, BeReal has added a reaction feature, whereby users upload their own face pulling similar faces to a series of emojis - as well as giving the option to respond with a new selfie.

THE WHY:

Last June, Norway passed a new law in its Marketing Act, whereby any photo in which “a body’s shape, size or skin has been changed by retouching or other manipulation” must be declared as such. With free editing softwares like Facetune, any individual with a smartphone can harness the power of photoshop, though we tend to associate this mostly with celebrities and influencers who are setting the trends for their audiences. It’s a heavily debated topic to begin with, and Norway’s reactive approach will potentially set the tone for new social media laws across the world if it is well received. More eyes than ever are now on the effect social media is having on our day to day lives, with studies finding that Instagram was the worst form of social media for your mental health. In it they discuss Instagram being linked to high levels of anxiety and depression in users.

So it’s been no surprise that the younger generation has taken instead to re-imagining social media. Initially, the solution they found was the “Finsta”, a form of instagram account under a pseudonym which was set to private, only for their closest friends to follow as a view into their “unfiltered” life. BeReal instead offers a specific platform for this private lens, purposefully built for authenticity, it’s literally in the name. Quickly, it has become the newest genuine competitor to mega social media platforms, with user growth showing they believe the next big thing is in creating the antithesis of social media standards, and going back to the roots of what social media began for.

BRAND TAKEOUTS:

As you can see, BeReal’s growth is undeniable, and it's clear to see why, while we’re only talking about the low millions right now (BeReal has been installed 7.41 million times to date), that number is on a speedy incline. This not only points to the desire for a more honest social media landscape, forgetting the airbrushed and edited photos that have become the norm in many of the top apps, but if past social media trends such as Snapchat stories are anything to go off, we may see the top platforms adopt this more value based, organic style of post. Perhaps Instagram will add another story option for unedited, unfiltered and truly instant photos, especially now they’re rolling out multiple feed features.


Values-based marketing is coming to the fore, says Paul Greenwood, head of research and insights at We Are Social, says “What we’re hearing from a lot of brands is that they want to be less interruptive. That’s become a real focus this year (2021), having historically used paid media to interrupt people’s feeds to get their message across. Brands now want to do it more organically and be part of the culture.” Perhaps it's time for brands to start thinking about creating content that slides into this format easier, meaning a shift from ultra polished and curated social media content, or adapt this way of thinking into the current format, and shift our priorities. Our audiences are calling for authenticity, so let’s be prepared to give that!