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How Brands Can Leverage BeReal

October 24, 2022

By: Madeline Rickett, Rachel Surdi, Erica Lipke and Marley Gleason

What is BeReal? 

BeReal is a new social media app that encourages people to take candid photos and “be real” at any given moment throughout the day. It works by sending a notification to users telling them to post a photo within two minutes. BeReal differs from other social media apps because (for the most part) the content isn’t curated. When you take your photo there is an option to retake it, but if you do this, your followers will know, essentially defeating the purpose of “being real.” When the notification goes off, the app takes a photo with the front and back camera, giving your followers a selfie and a photo of what you are looking at. If you happen to miss the notification, BeReal still lets you snap your pictures, but it will show up on your feed as “late.” You also can’t see what everyone else has posted until you post your own; once you do post, you can leave comments or what they call “RealMojis,” which are reactions to photos, but using a picture of your own face.  

Who is using it?  

The short answer: everyone. Over the past few months, BeReal has become one of the most popular social media apps, especially with Gen Z because of its spontaneous nature. Ther are no influencers, no editing options, you can only post once a day, and after 24 hours, the content is gone. Gen Z values authenticity and is all about going against social norms, so this app is perfect for them. It really shows people in their natural environment with no filters, which is pretty much the opposite of Instagram. 

Why are people interested?  

People are interested in BeReal because nothing about it is planned. The notification goes off at a different time every day, and people love seeing what their friends are up to at random times. BeReal also lets you keep your following much smaller than typical social media apps, which feels like a more natural connection. Unless you know someone personally, they most likely aren’t showing up on your BeReal feed.

How are other platforms competing? 

BeReal is currently the most popular version of this type of social media, with an estimated 28 million downloads since 2020. Like all social platforms, what one does the others must follow suit. BeReal’s popularity drove the launch of TikTok Now and the Instagram Candid Challenge.  

  • TikTok Now TikTok’s offering to capture authentic moments plays into their users’ love of video content, and gives them the option to either take a still image or a short video. This feature lives on TikTok’s navigation bar, and like BeReal, sends users daily notifications prompting them to post. Unlike BeReal, TikTok’s version has some privacy features such as only allowing users 18+ to share their TikTok Nows on the explore page. TikTok is making plans to make this a standalone app outside of the regular TikTok app. 
  • Instagram Candid Challenge Instagram created this feature to appeal to Gen Z’s need to be more authentic. Like BeReal and TikTok Now, this feature uses the dual camera function. After users are notified, they have two minutes to take a photo that can then be shared to their Instagram stories.  

These apps are catering to the Gen Z audience; trying to keep them engaged on the platforms. As mentioned, this generation is less concerned with a perfectly curated feed and more about sharing authentic moments. Given this shift in what content users want, we can expect to see less curated content across brand and creators in the future. 

Brands on BeReal 

BeReal is all about transparency and being “in the moment.” This may create challenges for marketers, but with Gen Z valuing authenticity like no previous generation, the platform may allow for a market to be tapped in more creative ways. While the app’s terms and conditions explicitly state that advertising is restricted, brands are still able to promote their values and products. Take Chipotle, for example: By making content that works with the platform, like showcasing their famous chip bag – conveniently boasting promotional content – Chipotle can still reach consumers without putting dollars behind their campaigns. So, what does this mean?

  1. Small businesses or brands with limited budgets are perfect for BeReal – Because the app specifically doesn’t allow advertising, algorithms won’t be skewed towards those spending money with the app, thus reaching audiences in a truly organic way. Small businesses can take advantage of this policy by promoting their brand through behind-the-scenes shots, culture highlights, and images of what day-to-day is like for those working behind the logo.  
  1. Opportunity for authenticity – Trends are showing that younger audiences don’t respond as well as their predecessors to tidy, perfectly produced content. Brands can benefit here by showing Gen Z that they are willing to let users get a “sneak peek” into what goes on behind closed doors. Rather than promoting only the final product, brands may be able to create engagement and strong relationships with target markets by showing off the work that goes into successfully creating that product. Document the process, use BeReal to show off concepts and brainstorms. Let users into your HQ by highlighting what you are doing.  

In short, don’t let the advertising restrictions limit the opportunities for marketing. Brands now have a path (and a demand) to reach younger audiences in ways that they haven’t had to in the past. Let the desire for genuine connection and candid brand promotion be a guide for new ways to feature brand values. 

How can brands monetize and measure results?  

BeReal has not brought in any revenue yet. The app is financed by large investments from venture capitalists. TechCrunch recently reported that the BeReal team has been discussing alternative ways to monetize the app. They have confirmed that they aren’t against advertising; they just want to avoid the pitfalls that have caused formerly popular apps to lose their user base. 

One optional revenue driver the platform has its eye on is in-app purchases: new, premium features. It’s unclear what these paid extras might include for BeReal users, but the strategy makes sense over inviting highly curated ads to a platform pushing authenticity. These new paid features likely won’t launch until Q3 2023. It’s unclear whether there will be any opportunities for brands to get involved with the paid features, but it could be something for marketers to keep an eye on. 

Despite not being able to advertise directly on the app, brands are still finding ways to “BeReal.”  

To stay relevant with Gen Z (and the rest of BeReal’s user base of 15 million), brands will need to start embracing the idea of creating content that doesn’t look strategically planned and is far from pixel perfect. The more messily framed, un-photoshopped, and amateurishly lit a photo looks, the better it might fare, at least as far as authenticity is concerned. BeReal also doesn’t allow users to “like” or share, so the intentions behind creating content may also need adjusting; measuring success on BeReal won’t involve any of those vanity metrics.  
For the time being, working with influencers or involving employees to create an account for the brand might be a workaround to not being able to advertise. Using BeReal organically will allow brands to test the platform and explore what it takes to grow a following. 

Brands can no longer rely on the former standard of creating highly produced ads for tactics like paid social and display. To reach this entire generation of consumers who reject being advertised to, brands will need to change their thinking radically. Our final word? It may pay – literally and figuratively – to be one of the first brands to experiment with reaching new audiences on platforms like BeReal. 

Not sure how to get started on platforms like BeReal? As a fully integrated marketing communications agency, The Martin Group’s mission is to motivate audiences to act across channels, and BeReal is no exception. No matter the size of your needs, our creative and digital marketing teams are here to help, from developing your brand’s BeReal strategy to connecting you to the right influencers.

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