BeReal is making waves in the cultural zeitgeist as the most honest form of social media, and with a tagline like “Your friends for real,” you’d expect nothing less.
In an era of color coordinated feeds and carefully curated highlight reels on social media, BeReal presents a radical idea: Everyday life, unfiltered—and all at once.
In other words, it’s the antithesis of Instagram.
The answer to algorithm anguish.
The antonym to aspirational timelines and highly polished platforms.
So, what does it mean for brands? Turns out, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. We had three JayRayers try BeReal to bring you our honest, unbiased take on the app (and how it can be leveraged for your benefit).
Before we dive in, let’s take a quick look at how it works.
On a daily basis, every user on the platform is notified simultaneously to capture and share a photo in two minutes or less (there’s even a timer!).
The result? No matter where they are or what they’re doing, over ten million daily active users around the world post once each day. Snapping both a front and back facing photo at the same, the mechanic of the app adds to the ritual of radical realness.
The mission behind the app is simple: “A new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life.”
Emphasis on the “really.” There’s a couple of caveats:
- It is not possible to see what other people have posted that day until you do. Each blurry post only intensifies the FOMO.
- Whether you missed the notification or you gave in to the urge to curate your life (it happens to the best of us), once your two-minute window has passed, friends and followers will see your post marked as “late.” After that, the judgments you make are yours.
- Like most social channels, you can “react” to a post, but you’d better be ready to own it. Meet “RealMoji,” the BeReal equivalent of your go-to smiley face with heart eyes (plus a handful of others). Consider it your unique take on the emoji that never misses—selfie style.
At the end of the day, this recent sketch from Saturday Night Live demonstrates the fun (and the peril) of the app pretty well.
Now that you’ve had a quick tour of the basics, let’s get into the weeds with our JayRayers:
Julia White, Art Director
Julia’s not one to judge when it comes to a late BeReal. “If I thought it was cheating to post late, then I’d be a huge hypocrite—I don’t think I’ve ever posted on time.” While there are plenty of kinks to work out in the early adopter phase, BeReal is a train you’ll want to hop on now to get the most out of it. Regardless, Julia isn’t in a rush to see brands join the app. “I’m sure that brands will find a way to leverage the platform, but I don’t think that’s the point.” After all, what is a brand if not a well-curated identity in business?
Julia sees fashion, food service and nonprofits finding a space to thrive on BeReal. “Brands in these industries would need a social media staffer who’s always on the go. I’d love the opportunity to see behind the scenes of a business—something unpolished and unplanned. Less active campaigning, more brand-building.”
As far as the future goes, Julia isn’t sure whether BeReal is here to stay. “If it does, I don’t see it reaching the same level of engagement as Instagram, for example.” Julia predicts short form video will become part of the platform in the near future. Regardless of new and noteworthy features on the horizon, Julia’s advice for those looking to BeReal is simple: “Don’t take it too seriously.”
Kacie Leacy, Senior Advisor and Principal
For Kacie, BeReal has been a good exercise in vulnerability, if not a FOMO cure since becoming a new mom: “On other platforms, we’re used to only seeing the most exciting or curated things in peoples’ lives. It’s refreshing to see that other people are at home on a Saturday night sometimes, too.”
She’s not a stickler about posting on time—if she even posts at all. “I’ll be honest…I skip some days when I’m just not feeling it—or if I get a prompt and I’m already in bed at 8 p.m.!” When asked about her daily notification, it’s not a stressor for Kacie to BeReal, but something to celebrate. The spontaneity of it all is half the fun.
So how do brands get in on it? Kacie is keeping an open mind, but she’s aware of the implications: “As with every other social media platform, if brands want to be part of it, they will need to be authentic to the purpose of the platform.” The mechanics of BeReal make it harder to pull off, but not impossible. Kacie has already seen it happen with big brands like Chipotle and Sour Patch Kids, who use flash coupons and deals based on the platform’s time-sensitive format. “I think it’s inevitable that more brands will find clever ways to use it—just as they have with all social media—whether we (as social media users) want them to or not.”
Looking ahead, Kacie is hoping to see BeReal stay true to its roots. “The app was created for people who want an alternative to seeking TikTok fame or who have grown tired of striving for the perfectly curated Instagram life.” As far as her predictions go, she thinks it’s bound to get swallowed up if it excels. She’s watching platforms like TikTok already try to mimic its features.
Olivia Carson, Copywriter
Olivia has always appreciated being a dweeb on the internet (her words, not ours), but not at the cost of her aesthetic. “In terms of my social media presence, I’m stuck between three camps nearly every day: Not caring at all, wanting to seem as if I don’t care, and caring very deeply. BeReal lets me hang out in the space between ‘f*ck it’ and ‘seemingly unbothered.’ I prefer the ‘f*ck it’ days. It’s fun to make ugly faces and be silly. As a woman on the internet, it’s liberating to know I don’t have to be pretty to be worthy of taking up space.”
With a platform like BeReal, where the premise is how well you can let go of the way you’re perceived, what’s lousier than curating yourself? Still, Olivia is tempted more often than not. “I was a wedding and portrait photographer for over a decade during the rise of travel bloggers, lifestyle influencers, and the ‘Valencia’ filter on Instagram. Posting anything less than flawless on social media was a lesson that took time to unlearn. BeReal is helping me do it.” Even so, Olivia has admitted to delaying her BeReal post for the day until she was up to something exciting. “If that makes me a cheater, I’ll own it, but you try posting a photo of your ceiling when you know you’ll be somewhere waaay cooler two hours from now.”
At the end of the day, Olivia is mindful about balancing the two, with an emphasis on the unpolished moments. “Honestly, I’m in my bed a lot. Or at my desk. Just like everyone else is. There’s a certain kind of comfort in that—a confirmation that we really were stuck in an endless collective highlight reel. We’ll always remember the milestones that make the cut for social media, but life is made up from the in-between moments that BeReal brings forward.”
Oh…and if your head is still swimming about the popularity of the app, check out these numbers.