On social media, new companies are constantly fighting to bring to market the next new thing to capture the hearts and minds of ever younger generations. Each new app or platform switches up or subverts what’s already popular, as user fatigue sets in with the novelties brought by existing platforms like Instagram and TikTok.
BeReal is the latest ‘big new thing’ to hit the public space. The platform has a focus on stamping out the voyeurism of ‘lurkers’ on social media, and in hitting the reset button on heavily curated social timelines that lends fake representation to people who are apparently ‘living their best life’ with heavily filtered and controlled timelines.
So far, so good… so we signed up for BeReal to see what the platform is all about.
To encourage you to actually BeReal and in-the-moment, you are given a notification at a random point in the day every day and are given just 2 minutes to respond to the notification by taking your shot. If you try and delay posting until you are doing something more interesting, everyone you are connected with can see that you posted late, which is an attempt by the platform at anti-curation. Just BeReal people!
You can’t upload photos you have already taken from your phone, and the app activates both your front- and self-facing camera at the same time, taking a selfie of you that appears in the corner of the main shot you are pointing your camera at. You don’t get to see the selfie until the shot is taken and ready to post, and so it removes your ability to capture your best side – a swipe at the vanity of selfie-addicts.
So you just have to take a photo of whatever it is you are doing at that point in time and you appear looking exactly like you look whilst you are doing it – even if you are in your pyjamas with unwashed hair, or out in the rain walking the dog in your scruffiest coat. The discovery timeline is full of mundane pictures of messy bedrooms (there are a lot of students on the app), and pictures of warehouses, offices, back of shop store rooms and other places of work, petrol stations, random street scenes, the list goes on… There are also a lot of selfie views shot from under the chin, which is never going to be anyone’s best side. But that’s BeReal for you.
Your posts are only available to your connections to see for 24 hours and then go into your personal archive. So you can see your daily posting archive, but no one else can. For people who like to post to social media and keep a record as a kind of personal diary, this archiving could be an advantage without having to commit you to keeping a historical grid published for all time thereafter. To people who like to flex on their amazing action-packed lives with a full and interesting timeline, they would find this feature of the platform frustrating.
There is no advertising, and there is no heavy representation of brands on the discovery timelines. That’s got to be a hands-down positive for anyone looking to escape the monetisation of their timelines by existing platforms where every other post is an ad you aren’t interested in. That said, there are some brands on the platform, but mostly they are the social media managers of big businesses most likely having a go at using the platform to figure out how it works and to stay on top of the latest trends in social.
To see your friends’ posts, you have to make a post yourself. You get a notification when one of your connections has posted, but you also have to have posted to your own timeline in order to see what your connections are up to. This democratisation of social posting feels like a good thing that is designed to encourage only real friendships and connections to share their lives with each other without fear of ‘lurkers’ who watch, take and judge, never giving back.
There is also a push-back against mindless liking activity by randoms. Conversely, it’s also a push back against the mindless act of collecting likes that serves the ego of the person posting rather than any real social interaction purpose. To comment or react to someone’s posts you have to be connected to them, and you have to have made your own post before you can post a reaction on one of your friend’s posts. You are also encouraged to give a ‘BeReal’ reaction to posts beyond the regular thumbs up like button, which will record your reaction from your self-facing camera and post it as Realmoji reaction to your friend’s post. This all encourages more authentic interaction between people, stopping the problems of anonymity on social behind which so many people hide.
When posting to this platform you are prompted to post once a day, and are encouraged, nay forced, to show your life in-the-moment by being given just 2 minutes from when the alert hits your phone to take your photo of whatever it is you are doing or seeing.
When you take your BeReal shot, you get to see and frame your front-facing photo – so an element of curation is possible with that – but you then press the shutter to find that both cameras are used at the same time. As anyone who has ever taken selfies will testify, it’s all about the angles. So, unless you know your angles and lighting like the back of your hand, you are going to be taking a lot of less than optimal shots of yourself if you use the app as intended. This is fine if you have no vanity chip installed, but will absolutely terrorise people who are under-confident in how they look. The 2 minute countdown also puts you into a tizz of, ‘Where am I and what am I doing? Oh no!’, ‘What do I look like? Oh no!’ and ‘The timer is ticking!’ That’s a real moment of stress added to your life every day.
If you delay posting, everyone can see that you posted late, but the app also notifies your connections if you don’t post your first shot and chose to retake it. Whilst being late to posting might be due to you genuinely having been engaged in doing something else – like driving a car, being in a meeting, out of service, on the toilet (!) or away from your phone – the implication of late posting is one of vanity, which we aren’t comfortable with.
The app notifies you randomly to post at any point in the day (and thankfully during normal waking hours only) but this is another facet we aren’t comfortable with. There is a stress of needing-to-be-noticed-versus-dopamine-hit-of-being-noticed problem with the way social media works currently. We feel that this mental health stressor of social media isn’t being overturned by the insistence of the app that you carry your phone with you at all times in order to keep up with your timelines. We’ve all seen the posts people put out saying that they’re giving social media a break due to the stress being on social is causing them. BeReal encourages daily activity rather than taking things at your own pace, which is stressful, and god forbid you leave your phone at home to go for a walk or decide to throw yourself into some real-world activity that isn’t recorded online…
Given the short response time on BeReal that happens every day, and that is dropped onto the user at any given moment induces a stress of responding to avoid the judgement of your connections. We feel that once BeReal starts to gain momentum and the finer nuanced etiquettes constructed by an army of users start to assert themselves, there is going to be plenty of scope for judgement and bullying on the platform when the masses decide that some people aren’t being ‘real enough’.
Practically speaking, there are some parts of the platform that are a bit clunky. Navigating around it, simple as the interface appears to be, is a bit confusing. We also find that sometimes our first shot hasn’t actually been posted, so we have needed to take it again, so the platform appears to have glitches.
Then finally as our parting shot on our views on this platform, is the future of the monetisation of the app. There are no brands on it, and there is no advertising or monetisation at the moment. An app with lots of non-paying users won’t keep the technical needs of the software or server hosting needs going without some payback. At some point it is inevitable that the creators of BeReal are going to have to raise some revenue out of the venture.
The usual path for brands to get a monetisable toe-hold on platforms like this is to start posting content that appeals to followers and then to start building an audience. So the social media managers for brands that are on the platform currently will likely end up gaining lots of ‘friends’ and will start putting out content that suits the mood of the people on BeReal. The same will go for celebs and personalities who will likely end up promising ‘exclusive’ content on BeReal for their ‘besties’, which will help them gain a return for working this platform alongside their other socials. This will muddy one of the original aims of the platform.
For the platform to secure a future for itself, revenue-generation to support it usually takes one of a few forms. Asking for subscriptions from the users themselves is a possibility, but that hasn’t really gone down very well for Twitter, plus the platform is aimed at Gen Z, so is unlikely. Advertising is an obvious ‘go-to’, for which legions of people are needed on-platform to make this a viable possibility for anyone who wants to spend ads budget reaching this audience. Then… most likely, the BeReal team will be looking to develop their platform and IP so they can get bought out by one of the other players in the social space.
Instagram is already trying to take on BeReal with their ‘Candid Challenge’ that takes a front and back camera shot for posting to the platform. So far that initiative has had a very cool response from Gen Z’ers, but it shows that Instagram has already felt the challenges of TikTok by responding with Reels, and is now feeling threatened by a new platform taking even more of that younger audience and future revenue streams away from them.
Meta is known for its acquisition strategy to nullify the competition, having started life as Facebook with erm… ‘The Facebook’ in its portfolio, before going on to acquire the following dizzying list of companies:
AboutFace, ConnectU, Parakey, FriendFeed, Octazen, Divvyshot, Friendster, Sharegrove, Chatlabs, NextStop, Hot Potato, Drop.io, Rel8tion, Beluga, Snaptu, RecRec, Datum, MailRank, Sofa, Push Pop Press, Strobe, Friend.ly, Gowalla, Instagram (yay! one everyone has heard of!), Tagtile, Glancee, Lightbox.com, Karma, Face.com, Spool, Acrylic Software, Threadsy, Atlas, Osmeta, Hot Studio, Spaceport, Parse, Monoidics, Jibiq, Onavo, SportsStream, Little Eye Labs, Branch, WhatsApp, Oculus VR (yay! another couple we’ve all heard of!), Ascenta, Protogeo Oy, Pryte, Private Core, LiveRail, Wave Group Sound, Wit.ai, QuickFire, TheFind, Surreal Vision, Pebbles Interfaces, Masquerade, Two Big Ears, Nascent Objects, Infiniled, Crowd Tangle, FacioMetrics, Ozlo, Faytech, tbh, Confirm.io, Bloomsbury AI, Redkix, Vidpresso, Chainspace, GrokStyle, Soniks, Service Friend, CTRL-labs, Packagd, Beat Saber, PlayGiga, Sanzaru, Scape, Giphy (yep, we’ve all heard of this one too), Mapillary, Ready At Dawn, lemnistech, Kustomer, Downpour Interactive, Unit2 Games, Big Box, Ai.Reverie and Within… phew and all this before the end of 2021*. In 2022, they’ve also acquired Presize.ai**
Given this huge list of acquisitions that have been incorporated into the Meta family at a stunning estimated cost of over $23billion, one little app like BeReal added to the portfolio would hardly be noticed by the finance department. So, watch this space.
We’re proud to say that we’ve helped many businesses generate millions of pounds of revenue through digital marketing. If you’d like help with your digital marketing email us on email@example.com or give us a call on 01629 810199 for a quick chat.
If you’d like help with digital marketing, ads management, SEO, copywriting, websites, branding or social media management… or anything else related to the internet and digital, then get in touch with us. We’re a friendly bunch.