BeReal: What’s the appeal of Gen Z’s new fave app, and how can brands participate?
I’ve conducted more than 15 interviews this year, and in every interview, I ask a version of the following question:
What is the most important element for creating content that resonates with your audience?
The answers have been a broken record: Authenticity. Authenticity. Authenticity.
In my qualitative research, I’ve learned consumers are tired of polished, highly produced, overly branded content. Instead, they crave unique, fresh, and genuine content from relatable, everyday people.
Stats from social media research back this up:
- 86% of people say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support.
- 90% of Millennials say brand authenticity is important, showing younger consumers prefer “real and organic” over “perfect and packaged.”
- 60% of consumers said user-generated content (UGC) is the most authentic form of content and its 3X more authentic than brand-created content.
We’ve already seen time and time again that when brands make authentic content their priority, they win.
- Asos publishes UGC on its TikTok account. The result? 1.3M followers.
- Chipotle posts people eating, food prep, and recipe hacks. 1.7M followers.
- Netflix promotes itself with raw behind-the-scenes clips. 26.7M followers.
Authenticity works. And, based on the popularity of the latest social media app, BeReal, people want even more. Here’s a closer look at what BeReal is, why it’s growing, and how brands are sneaking onto the platform.
What is BeReal?
BeReal is the ultimate “don’t overthink it app.”
Its goal is to capture real, not curated or highly produced moments.
When you sign up for a BeReal account, the app will randomly send you one notification a day. You then have two minutes to take a picture of whatever it is you’re doing at that exact moment.
The extra cool feature of BeReal is it activates both your front and back phone cameras, so your followers get a look at your face and your surroundings all in one quick update.
If for whatever reason, you don’t post the update within the two minutes, you can still post. But, there’s a caveat (or advantage, depending on how you look at it).
BeReal will tell on you.
It will let your followers know you didn’t post in real-time and also show how many times you retake your picture. Hypermanicuring, be damned!
What’s more, the app runs on community participation. This means you can’t see other people’s updates until you’ve taken your BeReal picture for the day.
The app is simple—even boring-looking at times—yet it’s growing like wildfire, especially among Gen Z and Millennials.
Analysis from Apptopia shows downloads nearly doubling some months, and monthly active users growing by 315% since the beginning of 2022.
These massive growth rates, coupled with BeReal’s simplicity, give insight into exactly what today’s younger generations crave online: realness. (And, yes, the irony of this is not lost on the non-digital native generations).
BeReal’s popularity is yet another concrete example of what social media users want from social media and brands (see above), which acts as a huge hint to brands that want to sneak in on the action.
Where there’s an audience, brands and marketers follow
It’s no secret that when robust audiences gather in new places and platforms, brands and marketers follow.
We’ve seen it happen with every social media giant so far. Facebook started out as a college social project to connect to one another. Now it’s one of the world’s biggest advertising platforms.
Instagram started out much like BeReal—as a place to share snapshots of your day-to-day life with friends and family. Now it's inundated with so many branded ads that you hardly see content from friends you follow.
Some people love Instagram for product discovery. Stats show 70% of shopping enthusiasts use Instagram for product discovery. Others, like @mattbooshell, explain the evolution of Instagram in less than endearing terms.
Even Twitter commentary from Adam Mosseri, the Head of Instagram, conceded that his platform has evolved.
Instagram may be seeing some of the biggest shifts recently, but the same story of advertising taking over popular social media apps (for good or bad) also applies to Snapchat and TikTok.
BeReal (for now) is different.
Its setup technically doesn’t cater well to brand accounts. In fact, the app actually prohibits using the app for commercial purposes in its terms and conditions.
I recently talked to Chaz Zayed, the Gen Z co-founder of Awful Cloth, about BeReal. He uses it, like so many others, to stay connected with friends and family. But, he also explained to me how he also thinks BeReal will eventually follow the same path as all other social media platforms.
“BeReal's goal is they don't want to make anyone famous. It's more just for your friends, family, and your little community. It notifies you to take a picture anytime during the day, and you can retake the pictures if you’d like. It’s what Snapchat should’ve been. However, as social media develops, there are going to be ads, and then there are going to be people who dominate the app,” says Zayed.
Is there a place for brands on BeReal?
Even though BeReal explicitly prohibits using the app for ads, we’re already seeing brands—and brand leaders—find creative ways to leverage the platform implicitly. Let’s take a closer look.
Morning Brew recently reported on how Chipotle infiltrated BeReal to capture the attention of Gen Z users.
Chipotle’s first campaign went down well. All the campaign entailed was a picture of a paper bag with a reusable promo code hand printed on the bag.
The campaign was well-received as all 100 of the codes were gone in approximately 30 minutes. Chipotle also acquired 2,000 friends on the platform.
In the Morning Brew article, Candice Beck, Chipotle’s director of social and influencer, explained that Chipotle is still experimenting with BeReal for customer acquisition.
But, clearly there is opportunity there.
While BeReal likely won’t roll out an ad network, brands can:
- Outright join BeReal and create campaigns like Chipotle.
- Create BeReals that offer a raw look into the behind-the-scenes of the company for boosted brand affinity.
- Focus on building organic relationships with BeReal creators in hopes of earned media.
2. Morning Brew
Not only is Morning Brew reporting on BeReal, but it's also bridging the gap between meme culture and this new social media platform to capture the attention of its audience.
Recently, Morning Brew (which has 406K followers) posted the following meme on Twitter.
It’s hilarious, spot on, and resonates with anyone who has a job.
But, something bigger is going on here.
While Morning Brew isn’t posting this meme directly on BeReal, it’s using BeReal’s trendiness to creatively tap into what Morning Brew does best—offer cheeky commentary on the latest fads.
I’m not sure how this use case translates directly into advice for other brands, but it’s too brilliant not to mention.
By using a “BeReal meme” on Twitter, Morning Brew shows off its inherent value:
- Morning Brew knows what’s trending in the social media world before everyone else.
- Its followers should keep following Morning Brew for the haps on trends.
It would be interesting to see how many of Morning Brew’s Twitter followers learned about BeReal for the first time from this meme.
Regardless, Morning Brew’s “BeReal meme” seems perfectly in-line with BeReal’s quest for authenticity.
3. Eli Weiss from Jones Road Beauty
If you’ve been lurking around the direct-to-consumer (DTC) world for the past couple of years, you likely know who Eli Weiss is.
If not, here’s a quick overview. Weiss is the Senior Director of Customer Experience and Retention at Jones Road Beauty, a brilliant marketer, and a notable DTC influencer.
In fact, a quick SparkToro search for “DTC” returns Weiss as one of the top 100 most influential social accounts in the DTC space.
Journalists also frequently quote Weiss in articles about DTC trends. This is all to say Weiss is a well-known marketing personality with an engaged audience. #HeHasFans.
Recently, Weiss tweeted out “it’s time to BeReal” with a picture of his BeReal post. The BeReal is about as authentic as it gets—it’s a glimpse into a worn out parent with an enthusiastic toddler standing on a window sill.
This cute photo is a relatable look into the life of an influencer the marketing community enjoys following, and it begs for more.
Now, I can’t say whether or not Weiss is using this as a smart marketing tactic to build his personal brand or to drive more consumers to Jones Road Beauty. I don’t know. Maybe not.
But, as a DTC influencer, he certainly could use this strategy.
In the future, we’ll most likely see brands and creators use BeReal in this exact way. We’ll see creators, influencers, and brands:
- Grow their audience and draw attention to their own creative projects.
- Leverage their BeReal presence to enter into lucrative sponsorship deals.
- Feature natural happenings and favorite products in the workspace.
The future of BeReal for brands and marketers
It’s currently challenging for brands to explicitly build a presence on an app that prohibits product promotion.
However, it seems BeReal leaves a space wide open for brands to enter the space and for creators to post whatever they want about companies and products they love—so long as it remains authentic.