BeReal is a French photo-sharing platform with a simple concept to take photos (both from the front and selfie camera) once a day and within two minutes!
In times when most people are hooked to mindless scrolling on Instagram and when filter culture is a part and parcel of everyday photo-capturing, it sparks some curiosity if there comes an app that claims to “BeReal” and is hyped as the antidote to the shimmers and sparkles of the current state of social media consumption.
What is BeReal? Why is it so hyped? Is it really a replacement for Instagram? And finally, is BeReal here to stay?
With all these questions in mind, I downloaded the app and tried it myself!
Launched at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, BeReal is a French photo-sharing platform. The concept is simple: to take photos (both from the front and selfie camera) once a day and within two minutes! There are no filters and it’s just photos (and no videos).
With the tagline “Your Friends for Real”, BeReal is hoping to un-condition almost a decade-long filter culture and also change the way we interact with family and friends. It also tries to unhook users from seemingly endless uploads by letting them post a picture just one time in a day. It is safe to say that the French app, which is promoting old-school photo culture, is also encouraging a more authentic way to capture and share life.
Moreover, on Instagram, users could upload content that they took a few months or even years ago, but that’s not the case with BeReal, which urges you to take a picture from your everyday life and post it then and there itself. This could not only limit time spent on social media but also discourage the very prevalent influencer culture. The app even claims that it “won’t make you famous.”
Users can comment on friends’ posts, react with RealMoji (i.e. your emoji representation), see where friends are in the world when they post the picture and also chat with them. They can later view their previous pictures in Memories. Further, the app is listed on Apple App Store with some comic warnings:
While the app is getting mixed reactions online, it seems to be a bonafide hit with some. According to data from Sensor Tower shared with Fast Company, BeReal was No. 1 among free apps in Apple’s U.S. App Store as of mid-July. “In fact, the United States is currently BeReal’s top market, representing about 35% of its users, Sensor Tower says, followed by the U.K. with 17% and France with 10%. In total, BeReal has been installed more than 20 million times.”
BeReal is emerging at a time when Instagram, the Meta-owned popular social media platform, is going through a rough patch and is facing a severe social media backlash, with even celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian, on its attempt to mimic TikTok, a Chinese short video sharing app.
Insta users are unhappy as the app is becoming more and more video-centric and users have little control over consuming the recommended content posted by strangers on the platform. Limited interactions from users’ own family and friends are adding to the users’ frustration and fuelling campaigns asking to “make Instagram Instagram again.”
Insta head Adam Mosseri had to concede that the company will walk back some of its features, which includes phasing out a test version of fullscreen photos and videos along with a reduction in the number of recommended posts in the app.
Apart from this, Instagram’s parent Meta reported its first-ever revenue decline in June, while several reports suggest users’ fading interest in the company’s other popular social media platform, Facebook. All these only compound the cycle of bad news that the company had to endure.
In this scenario, it would be noteworthy to watch if Meta can regain users’ interest or if is it the end of an era for the American tech giant and the beginning of a boom for apps like BeReal.
However, it is still too early to make such predictions as Meta’s Instagram and Facebook still have a vast following, while BeReal is still in a very basic form and has to iron out many flaws. Plus, from buying influencer-suggested products to getting a sneak peek into the highlighted version of people’s lives, it seems difficult to take a step back and completely become old school and consume unfiltered photos.
Yes, there is user frustration with Instagram but that can be addressed. And, criticism solely from celebrities like the KarJens (Kardashians/Jenners), who themselves are very much reliant on Instagram for the marketing of their business, cannot be seen as the beginning of the end of such a vast tech company, which remains undefeated in its reach across the globe.
All in all, it is refreshing to see anything that is not Instagram or TikTok. But whether BeReal could sustain its growth trajectory or will it fade out with time remains to be seen.