Gen Z Seeks To 'BeReal' Online

In the early days of social media, users carefully curated their online content, posting heavily filtered and retouched photos of themselves living their best life. But today, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, with users valuing raw, gritty authenticity. No app better exemplifies this trend than BeReal, where over 10 million Daily Active Users post one dual-camera photo a day, at a predetermined time.

Developed by former GoPro employee Alexis Berreyat and Kevin Perreau, BeReal launched in 2020, hitting its stride this spring. It boasts of over 53 million downloads worldwide. TechCrunch reports that BeReal closed a Series B funding round at $60 million, valuing the company at around $600 million.

BeReal’s conceit is simple: it notifies users at a random time each day that they have a two-minute window to post. Users must take a picture of what they’re doing during that time, using their front and back smartphone cameras. Users can delete and redo a photo just once. Users can leave comments on their friends’ photos but can’t comment on other posts in the Discovery section.



BeReal has no ads, though some brands are trying to establish a presence on the platform. Chipotle has experimented with sharing coupon codes on the app and sent its social media team to Times Square to snap BeReals. E.l.f. Beauty has used the platform to offer an “inside look” at the company. In addition, Trident, Sour Patch Kids, and PacSun have all posted BeReal-style photos on other platforms.

But BeReal discourages commercial use of its platform. Chipotle and e.l.f. are listed as has having “too many friends,” preventing anyone else from adding them and seeing their content.

The success of BeReal has inspired other platforms to incorporate candid photos. TikTok launched TikTok Now in September, with similar features as BeReal and just slight tweaks (users get three minutes to post, and can upload videos as well as photos). In July, Instagram launched a “Dual Camera” feature, and promoted it with “IG Candid Challenges.” And even Snapchat has gotten into the game, launching Dual Camera in late August.

What can brands learn from the success of BeReal?

*Authenticity is in. The era of the perfect photo is over, at least for now. Consumers realize how artificial those photos are, how unobtainable their standards are, and how unhealthy it is to strive for such perfection. So don’t show perfect users and perfect products, like the model biting into the perfectly styled cheeseburger. Show everyday people scarfing down food, mustard stains and all.

*Dual camera offers another POV. Users are increasingly comfortable with dual camera shots, which show a point of view (e.g., skiing down a mountain) with an inset of the user’s face (the skier). These are ideal for depicting usage cases -- brands can depict what it looks like to use the product, as well as what a consumer looks like while using it. So don’t pose an actor or model with the product in a stilted way. Instead, take raw “action shots” with the product front and center, and the talent’s face as an inset.

*Once a day forms a habit. BeReal also serves as a protest against excessive posting: no photo dumps or tweetstorms, just one dual-camera photo per day. It’s a good lesson for brands not to overwhelm consumers with continual posts throughout the day. Just as Wordle is a once-a-day treat, so should your brand’s message be.

Social media holds important lessons for brands on how to BeReal and reveal their authentic selves to Gen Z consumers.
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