When it first showed up, BeReal seemed like a breath of fresh air among all those social media filled with filtered faces, staged lives, and fake smiles. This app was dubbed “anti-Instagram,” as its goal was to have the users share the genuine, unstaged moments of their lives.
But is BeReal losing its point only a few months after its launch? I have some thoughts about it, and I believe there are two main reasons why this app might fail before it even properly takes off.
Even though BeReal was released in 2020, it didn’t gain popularity before early 2022. And once it happened, it happened fast. People became sick of Instagram and its attempts to look like TikTok. Users were looking for something new, fresh, and different to share their lives and take a peek into the lives of others. Real lives… or at least what seemed that way.
Enter BeReal, the app that does just that: lets you share your genuine moments as they happen, without filters, endless posing, and retaking the photo 34 times before it’s perfect. You get a prompt, click on the notification, and you’ve got two minutes to take the shot for the day. The idea is cool, it’s simple, and maybe above all – it’s new. So people flocked to the new app… Just so they could turn it into yet another Instagram. Wait, what?
People are using BeReal like Instagram
As I mentioned, the main idea of BeReal is to send you a prompt that it’s “time to be real.” You’ll see a notification on your phone, and when you click on it, both the front and the back camera will open, allowing you to take a photo of what you’re doing at that exact moment. But there’s a catch.
Once the notification appears, you don’t need to click on it straight away or within a specific time frame. You can wait all day before you do… Or wait at least until you put on some makeup. Or pretend that you’re doing something more fun than watching Better Call Saul alone in the dark (although, what’s more fun than that?).
It started to feel as if people finally realized that lives aren’t as glamorous as they seem on Instagram. But instead of embracing this fact, they started using BeReal’s prompts not when the app sends them, but when they can show a more “polished” and staged moment in their lives.
BeReal’s growing popularity
I think it’s free to say that BeReal’s popularity exploded over the past couple of months. As Influence Marketing Hub reports, the app’s monthly active users increased by more than 300% in 2022. It recently ranked first in the free iPhone apps list, fourth in social media download, and tenth in the most downloaded social media platforms. And if I, a regular Jane, have the access to these stats, guess who else does? That’s right, the two biggest social media platforms: TikTok and Instagram.
Instagram and TikTok want to “be real”
Shortly after BeReal’s success, Instagram introduced its Dual Camera feature. If you’ve followed Instagram’s development as long as I have, then you know that most of its “revolutionary new features” are copies of successful features seen in other apps. There was Snapchat, there was (and still is) TikTok, and now there is BeReal. Just like “anti-Instagram,” Instagram now also lets you take a photo of your surroundings and yourself at the same time, in real-time. It’s kinda ironic, isn’t it?
Instagram’s greatest competitor, TikTok, didn’t wait long to introduce its own version of BeReal, Dual Camera, or whatever we’re going to call this feature. It’s called TikTok Now, and yes, it does absolutely the same thing. You get a prompt, open your camera, and take a photo of yourself and whatever it is that you’re doing at the given moment. There’s only one difference – TikTok Now also lets you take a short video, not only still photos. But who knows, maybe BeReal will now copy TikTok and add this option to the app. That would be a fun plot twist.
So, is BeReal losing its point?
It hasn’t been long since BeReal got popular, and we already have two mainstream social media apps copying its key feature. So, is BeReal still the “anti-Instagram” and “anti-social” app if major social apps are using the same feature? I’m not quite sure. For me, everything loses a point here.
However, what makes BeReal even more pointless is the fact that people use it like Instagram (as much as the app allows it). Indeed, many users truly are trying to steer clear of the fakeness of social media, especially Instagram. And yet, BeReal now swarms with those who try hard to present themselves and their lives as more glamorous than they are.
Are there solutions to make BeReal real again?
I used BeReal for about a month and a half to try it out, and I have some thoughts about it which I might share in some future article. But as far as “being real” goes, I think there’s a good solution to making BeReal real again. It’s pretty simple – the prompt notification shouldn’t sit on your phone all day.
Once you get the notification, BeReal should allow you a very specific (and short) time frame to click on it and take the photo. Let’s say, you hear the notification and you’ve got ten minutes to take the photo, plus those two minutes once you open the cameras. This way, there will be less wiggle room for faking our lives as we do on Instagram. If you get the notification during a super-private moment or you just don’t hear it on time… Well, you’ll have another chance tomorrow. It’s no big deal, really.
I personally believe that the idea and the concept of BeReal are great. However, if it wants to last – the team behind it really should make some changes and make users actually be real. They won’t be able to stop Instagram, TikTok and anyone else from copying the features and giving them different names. But if BeReal really offers a different, more genuine experience than other networks, it will be here to last.