Written by: Rachel Clancy on Thu Dec 22

BeReal: Authenticity is Trending

BeReal's rise reflects a shift towards authenticity in social media, challenging traditional platforms and marketing strategies. As it champions genuine, unfiltered moments, brands must adapt to engage a generation that values authenticity above all.

ripped subway advertisement, bereal notification, person rushing by

The results are in: BeReal has been named the 2022 iPhone App of the Year.

The title is well deserved. BeReal’s novelty and transformative nature are undeniable. However, this feels like more than a passing trend. At its core, BeReal is all about authenticity, an idea that is gaining traction. What does this mean for social media as we know it, and why should brands be paying attention?

Launched in 2020 by two French entrepreneurs, BeReal is a photo-sharing app with a twist. Twice a day, users get a notification prompting them to take a photo within two minutes. The app captures both the front and back camera view, a few seconds apart. There’s no filters, and the prompting notifications are randomly timed. The idea is to document what you are doing at that moment, unplanned and unfiltered. There’s no likes, no followers (only “friends”), no predatory algorithms, and hopefully less actual psychological stress (yikes).

The app has exploded in popularity, amassing over 67 million downloads. It has become a daily ritual, a debatable conversation piece, and even had its relevance ratified by SNL.

BeReal’s success is no coincidence. Its grip on pop culture is a reflection of people’s growing frustration with traditional social media. The rat race to present a perfectly curated, fun, successful, “my-life-is-better-than-yours” image is exhausting. BeReal’s solution? Force users to capture and celebrate their authentic, albeit sometimes mundane moments. Moments that otherwise wouldn’t make the cut on a platform like Instagram or Facebook.

Its rapid growth has not gone unnoticed by brands. The race is on to figure out how to use BeReal as a viable social media marketing channel. The early birds haven’t had much luck. The app’s parameters are restrictive to brands, by design. Ignoring the obvious potential for profit, BeReal’s creators have stood firm in their refusal to allow advertising on the platform. Any efforts to bully BeReal into taking advertisers are, at least for now, misdirected.

Though BeReal might be a dead end for brands seeking a new marketing channel, all hope is not lost. There is still a lesson to be learned here. The authenticity trend is key for gaining insight into marketing towards Gen Z,  who accounts for almost 75% of BeReal users. The demographic is projected to have unprecedented buying power by the end of the decade, so now is the time to be paying close attention.

BeReal’s success is indicative of the way consumers want to interact with brands. With Gen Z coming of age, marketers are beginning to understand their core values: individuality, occasional absurdity, and above all, authenticity. Take Wendy’s and Duolingo, for instance, who went viral for humanizing their brands and using shock-value humor in their social media content.

Gone are the days of manipulative, soulless advertising. The rise of authenticity demands genuine connection between the brand and the consumer, even if it means reaching levels of informality that would have previous generations clutching their pearls.

It is unclear whether BeReal will continue its momentum or fade into obscurity as it navigates making money beyond crowdfunding. Either way, its impact will change the way we look at social media forever.

Beyond a business perspective, BeReal has made it clear that we have a long way to go to unlearn performative perfection. The app is not without its loopholes. BeReal allows you to retake the pictures at any time within the two minute countdown. Also, because BeReal allows you to post late, users can simply wait for an opportune, photogenic moment to post. There is also the question of whether authenticity is even truly possible on social media.

The harsh reality is that the younger parts of Gen Z never got the chance to experience the world prior to the dominance of social media. The pressure to present the best versions of themselves is all they’ve ever known.

Breaking down years of learned behaviors isn’t going to happen overnight, but this trend is a good place to start.

The word “trend” can be scary– it implies a level of conformity. In this case, however, there is no one particular way authenticity is supposed to look. The beauty of authenticity is its individualistic nature. Whatever authenticity means to the individual is perfectly okay, and it’s also okay to not know what that looks like just yet. Authenticity breeds understanding, and understanding is the key to solving a lot of problems. A lot more problems than it gets credit for.

It’s possible that this authenticity trend will go as quickly as it came. Hopefully, however, it is here to stay.


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Writings from our team: News & Updates.