BeReal : a new platform to reflect new desire

In 2020, two Frenchmen, Alexis Barreyat (CEO) and Kévin Perreau founded BeReal. After a slow start in that year, the app gained over 500,000 followers among French university students. By early 2022, it expanded into US and UK markets. It was frequently referenced on TikTok, and finished 2022 as the iPhone App of the year.

Users should ‘be real’ and share real photos and environments

The app is designed for users to interact with their friends without caring about their followers or likes, which removes the seductive lure of approval. At a random time every day, users receive a notification to post a photo, and they have only two minutes to comply. The objective is clear: users should ‘be real’ and share real photos and environments. The app differs from other social apps which allow – and even encourage – editing of photos and the use of fake locations.

Alexis Barreyat and Kévin Perreau

 Simultaneous photos using the front and rear camera give an added guarantee of authenticity and make it extremely difficult for members to fake – or even edit – their input. In addition, the app allows the user to share a true map of their location. The result of these ‘reality safeguards’ is a refreshingly honest take of people’s’ lives, a return to reality after the narcissism and fantasy that unlimited time and built in photo-editing software spawned.

BeReal has targeted high schoolers and university students

Historically, BeReal has targeted high schoolers and university students between the ages of 16-25. In the UK and US, as well as in France and Spain the majority of members are female. In Australia, Brazil, the UK and Germany, over 90% of all posters are female. Is this move towards more realistic, honest communication and sharing the beginning of a major new trend? The statistics tend to suggest that it is. In 2022, for the first time in 18 years, Facebook’s user count dropped.

BeReal has already been co-opted into other apps such as Chipotle and Logitech, and its share of the USD800 billion global digital advertising and marketing market is set to grow rapidly. However, to attain its full potential, one of its biggest challenges will be to expand the core demographic from the current 16–25-year-old, predominantly female members, to older and possibly more male-inclusive membership.

Will BeReal be forced to imitate its main competitor and nemesis Instagram, as well as others such as Snapchat and Tik Tok? Will it capitulate and add features that concede honesty and realism? Or will its most redeeming and appealing feature win the day and attract more converts away from the “photo-edited narcissism” other social media apps have thrived on? Only time will tell.

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