As part of a fireside-chat-style content series called ‘Below the Ceiling’, Kate O’Loughlin, strategy manager at Rufus Australia, and Leah Franco, strategy manager at Initiative, sat down with a mic between them and discussed the BeReal revolution we’re seeing at the moment, and where they see it heading from here.
As digital natives, seeing the words ‘authenticity’ and ‘online’ paired together makes us cringe.
Every social media player wants their platform to be the ‘most authentic’, but this ‘authenticity’ continues to be touted alongside (and despite of) the continued monetised presence of brands.
BeReal is like a ‘photo a day’ video app but less lame and more social. It’s grown exponentially in the past few months, with 1.4M Aussie users already. The app randomly prompts users once a day to take a picture (selfie and back camera) within two minutes of the notification – those who take it after these times are called out in-feed for posting ‘late’. The BeReal ‘feed’ shows your friends’ photos as well as their location, ‘real-moji’ reactions (a photo of your face), captions and how many retakes they needed to nail the pic.
Over the last two months, BeReal has consumed our conversation. So we set down a recorder between us and decided to capture these chats. Our DM’s are open if anyone wants to turn this into a podcast.
Kate: I’ve used BeReal for over two months and I feel a weird devotion to it. There’s a feeling of genuine excitement when I get the “BeReal” notification that is unlike any other app on my phone. It’s addictive by design, because it offers me an unseen view into the lives of my contacts.
L: Yeah, unlike other platforms where you can doomscroll through everyone’s entire Internet presence, BeReal gives you the tiniest of snippets which minimizes curation.
Where we’ve lost the thrill of notifications from other social platforms (excluding a DM from your crush) BeReal has created a cult-like community.
Memes have popped up on other platforms around the content and notification system – an opportunity for brands looking to do on-trend marketing without fully committing to the platform.
We explore why BeReal users are latching onto the excitement of a notification…
K: There is a rush when the BeReal notification goes off and you’re actually doing something. Taking a BeReal when you’re with friends adds a sense of community to an app that otherwise has none. In saying that, you and I have both been guilty of waiting until we were doing something fun to take the BeReal even if it meant posting hours late – a true antithesis of the app.
L: Same! I know BeReal is about being “present”, but I can’t shake it. I can’t let go of the need to curate. I have grown up chronically online. The act of taking and posting a photo will always feel contrived. I am so aware of my imagined audience and the feeling of permanency online. It may be a fleeting moment on BeReal, but I always have the anxiety that it will live on in a screenshot.
K: Personally, I’m a one take wonder. Since BeReal doesn’t connect to any other social media, I only have a curated selection of friends who I don’t care if they see me at my worst. They’re not random people who I met once in a bar in Turkey, they’re people who I talk to enough that I have their mobile number.
L: The way I keep this a positive experience is being extraordinarily tight with who I follow. Especially as there is no option to mute people. It’s really about who I am invested in enough to see the mundane stuff in their lives.
K: Exactly, which is why BeReal currently has no influencers… that I follow at least. Why would I want to see a random moment of your day that you’re already posting on other socials?
L: Just because we don’t follow them now, doesn’t mean we won’t in the future. Influencers have made a fortune off monetizing their mundane lives! BeReal feels like the next logical step for them. But the UX is working against them. BeReal doesn’t have the sophisticated algorithms that TikTok and Instagram have. You would have to galvanize a truly dedicated following to build an influencer audience on BeReal.
This got us thinking about the actual UX of the platform. The functionalities of the app are so stripped back. All follows are reciprocal. No notification bar. Limited word count on captions. No messenger function. No prompts telling you how to use the platform. The app feels under-engineered, but in a way that feels extra thoughtful. Will this remain or will the platforms future look to evolve to include more opportunities for brands..?
K: The lack of algorithm makes me uncertain about future iterations of BeReal. Instagram has prioritised video content and TikTok is engaging in longform, and, in my opinion, a video option seems like the next logical addition to keep people on the platform longer.
L: In reality, the next logical step will be making it easier for brands to be on the platform.
K: Agreed. Whether it’s through a DSP or organic account ownership, BeReal will likely eventually become monetised. The best version of a brand on BeReal will come from a company that has a casual approach to organic content marketing – like Messina or Duolingo.
L: With no infinite scroll it makes it hard for ads to be “seamless”. I reckon BeReal’s best bet would be to do what the gaming apps do. An ad for a retake. If you retake or post late, you have to sit through an ad. I think this will be its downfall, but we always say this about all new platforms being monetized, and yet here we are today! Chucking Facebook on the media plan as a “reach driver”….
The final verdict. Vibe checked or vibe wrecked?
BeReal is… Vibe checked.
So what should you do now? Download BeReal, give it a go. Get used to the format and functionalities, because let’s be real (pun intended), it’s highly likely we’ll see a similar ‘moment in time’ product on another app soon… Instagram stories we’re looking at you.
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