BeReal – do we really need another social media app?

Published by Alex Spagnoletti


30 March 2023


When I checked my screentime this week it was down 30% from last week… Progress. WhatsApp and Instagram are my go-to apps (after that, Apple Music and my Banking App), so when my daughter (Gen Z) suggested I download Be Real this week I had no appetite due to the amount of time I already spend on social media. My daughter, in fact was also sceptical at first for similar reasons.

Be Real is riding off a human truth that people are craving authenticity. The App encourages people to "show your friends who you really are, for once", by removing filters and opportunities to stage, over-think, or edit photos.

Authenticity is not a new desire expressed by human beings. Instagram started the trend around 2020 with the #instagramvsreality hashtag which shed light on what the unfiltered reality is behind curated Instagram posts. This was part of the body positivity movement in response to rising depression and suicide numbers, particularly among teens – driven by unrealistic perfectionism – where image is more of a sensitised topic.

I decided to download the app and give it a try. It took me back to 2016 when TikTok was an obscure platform mentioned in some boardrooms, but nobody knew how the app would be monetized for brands. Once a model was in place, TikTok professed Don’t make Ads, Make TikTok and were the first social app born from this human need for authenticity. BeReal will most likely develop a revenue model and be monetized over the next year, and all big brands will want to jump on board. This might further revolutionize the way brands show up on social media being even more authentic than what Tik Tok is able to deliver. Consumers are done with fake, and raw reality is a booming currency.

So how does it work? The app notifies users at a random time throughout the day that it's time to BeReal. A two-minute timer starts when the user opens the app, to take a picture of whatever they're doing at that moment. When posting a BeReal, the app takes a picture using both your front and back camera, so other people can see you and where you are at that moment. It’s meant to catch you off-guard. 

Within minutes of having my account I was notified (you need to agree to have a push notification sent to you randomly in the day to tell you to post). I was having my morning coffee, with my dog on the bed, still climatising to the day. I was able to friend exactly 4 people on BeReal, so this is definitely very new in my demographic. Something very unique is the reactions function on the app. Instead of posting a like, or heart eyes emoji, BeReal asks you to interpret the emoji in another selfie, so your reactions are super-personalized, which I like a lot.

The App leaves me with a few questions: How much sharing is too much? Do we need to come to the office in tracksuit pants just because Covid allowed us to work from home for a bit? Are we hotwiring connection by dropping boundaries with an app like BeReal? While the world of beautifying filters like SnapChat might exacerbate low self -worth in vulnerable young people, do we really need to see each other altogether unfiltered?

An interesting space to observe, but so far, I’ve enjoyed the novelty.

References: insider.com