Home Social group BeReal is the latest trendy social media app trying to go mainstream

BeReal is the latest trendy social media app trying to go mainstream


Be Real | Jessica Bursztynski

Popular social media apps come and go with frequency, as developers try to find the next big thing that will go viral with Gen Z users. Snapchat. Among the newbies that are gaining popularity and aiming to go mainstream is photo-sharing app BeReal.

Founded in 2020, BeReal invites users to take one unedited photo per day at a seemingly random time. The notification could arrive at 8 p.m. today and 11:48 a.m. tomorrow. Users then have two minutes to take and post a photo before it is marked as late.

After sharing, they can see what their friends have posted for the day and can comment or react with an emoji. If an image appears late, the application will note it for your friends, but you will not have any other penalties. The app uses both the front and rear camera to give users a candid view of what is happening at the moment.

“It’s silly but I feel like it serves a different purpose than Instagram or Snapchat,” Emily, a user of the app for about two months, told CNBC on the condition that we only use not his last name. “I have friends that I don’t communicate with on a regular basis, but I appreciate having a little window into what they do once a day, even if it’s just sitting at their computer or taking a walk.”

BeReal, which is based in France, hit the top 20 on Apple’s App Store’s list of best free apps this month, and finished fourth in social media, behind only Facebook’s top three apps. .

BeReal has around 10.7 million global installs to date, according to SensorTower. Its peak month came in April, when it hit 3.6 million, up 157% from March, the firm said. BeReal runs a middle and high school ambassador program, which is likely helping its user growth.

The app is free and there are no ads at this time, so the monetization strategy remains unclear, as is often the case with fledgling social media apps. Still, investors like what they see enough to pour cash at a valuation of more than $600 million, Business Insider reported earlier this month.

A spokesperson for BeReal declined to comment for this story in addition to sharing a general backgrounder on the app.

I downloaded BeReal to see what it was all about and to share my experience. The app only has three tabs, so it was easy to navigate right from the start. There’s a place to add friends, a general homepage with your friends’ photos and a discovery option and your profile page.

Your profile hosts your photo library

Be Real | Jessica Bursztynski

After downloading BeReal and choosing a username, the app prompted me to take a photo. It gave me two minutes so I had little time to think about my surroundings or what I wanted to do. I took a picture, backed up a bit and continued. It was basically a crash course in using the app. I then went to my profile to upload a profile picture.

The profile page hosts a calendar with my photos from the past month, so it’s a good way to look back on my daily activity.

It’s a social experiment

Jessica Bursztynsky | Be real

After creating my profile, I went to add friends. As you can see, few of my friends are on BeReal. The app is meant to be a social experience so your friends can see you at a random and candid time. You can upload your phone’s contact list to find friends, which I didn’t want to do for privacy reasons, or search for them by username.

You can only see your friends’ posts if you share yours that day, so there’s no hiding on the app. There’s also the option to comment on other people’s posts or react with a “RealMoji”, a selfie of you mimicking an emoji face.

You can still discover new people

Jessica Bursztynsky | Be real

If you want to see what others are doing around the world, you can tap on the “discover” tab on the homepage. I scrolled and saw people from places like Ireland, Turkey and Pennsylvania.

I’m not particularly interested in this feature, as I just prefer seeing photos of friends and sharing a bit of what I’m up to. If you’re worried about who can see your messages, BeReal makes accounts private by default so they’re only visible to your friends.

Because it looks less serious than most other social apps, I don’t feel the need to broadcast my messages to strangers around the world.

At the end of the line

For all its sudden popularity, I found the BeReal experience quite limited. I’ve been using the app for less than two weeks and haven’t benefited much from it as my group of friends seem more interested in Instagram and our group chats.

The app also looks quite glitchy. There was one day when I didn’t receive a notification, which I attributed to accidentally missing it. I posted my picture 22 hours late. But it happened again a few days later. I was with a friend who is on the app and his message never arrived either. We both ended up posting two hours late.

Some of the issues are forgivable considering how quickly the product developed. But they still interfere with a good user experience.

I still use the app and do my daily photo, but I can’t imagine I’ll be there much longer. I like to randomly send images in group chats, so I’m happy with this option.

However, I know BeReal has its fanatics and the platform offers a new way to stay connected. It’s not a bad concept – it’s just not for me.

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