What is BeReal? I will tell you what it’s not: A cheap fad or a flash-in-the-pan social media app which will evaporate as quickly as it arrived. Already, it’s been downloaded almost eight million times, growing exponentially in 2022.
BeReal is #1 on the app store for a reason, ahead of Snapchat, Youtube, WhatsApp, Google Maps and, well, everything else. Unlike Instagram or TikTok, the app places its emphasis on authenticity. There is no time for filters, makeup, or finely choreographed photos. What you see is what you get.
BeReal doesn’t want the highlights of your life, it wants the opposite: You sitting on the couch, laying in bed reading a book, eating Pringles next to the pool with a friend, and so on. And users around the globe are loving it for this reason.
Developed in France in 2020 by GoPro employees Alexis Barreyat and Kevin Perreau, BeReal asks you to take one candid photo at a random time every day. If you fail to do so, that is OK, except you won’t be able to see posts from your friends. The choice is yours. There is a clear incentive for being active on BeReal.
Once you get the notification on your phone, you have two minutes to take the photo. Your picture is a selfie and whatever is in front of you. The back and front cameras work simultaneously. If you don’t like the way you look, you can delete it and try again, but your friends will know about it. Again, the choice is yours. Authenticity is placed on the highest pedestal.
After the photo has been uploaded, friends can comment on your BeReal and you can share it on other applications such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. There is some cross-promotion, but not a lot. The comments can be via text, or, as of recently, you can send a selfie as a comment via a RealMoji. These selfies can be saved for later as well.
You can also view every BeReal you’ve ever taken via the “memories function.” Theoretically, users could have one photo from every day of their life for years on end eventually. That’s pretty cool, albeit arguably unnecessary at the same time.
The merits of apps such as these can be debated endlessly. The balance between narcissism and connectivity is skewed towards the latter because so many young people view the world in a different way. Being attached to your phone is the norm, rather than the exception. BeReal harnesses this desire.
Semi-similar but better than rival apps Minutiae and Poparazzi, BeReal has somehow found its way into a monopolised and frankly crowded marketplace. 74.5% of downloads have been in 2022. In January 2021, there were 10,000 users. By April 2022, there were 2.93 million. This number is expected to double by the end of July.
Like Facebook and Snapchat before, BeReal has opted against monetising itself initially. Instead, it relies on cash from outside investors. It recently raised $30 million and has so far avoided any advertising or subscription services.
Remember, every great social media company started small. Facebook was a vehicle for university friends to interact via an online portal and Instagram had no video or story functions. The simplicity of BeReal is what makes it so popular despite being so young. It has a timeline that refreshes every day and is free of the clutter Instagram has been critiqued for recently.
Its secret? The need to turn on push notifications. If they are off, the app won’t work for you. If turned on, BeReal is heavily addictive.
If you like what you’ve read, you can download it below.