For a new business to succeed in today’s crowded social media landscape, it would need to offer something completely different. The French founders of the fast-growing app BeReal took on this challenge by creating an antidote to some of the most common complaints made about other social media platforms, including addictive product design and comparison culture.
So how does BeReal promise to tackle those issues that besiege their leading competitors, and will they actually succeed? Firstly, they limit users to one post a day. The idea is that once a day, users are alerted that it’s time to post, and they have just two minutes to take a photo. The image posted combines shots taken from their front and back cameras, so it’s both a selfie and a photo of what they’re looking at at that particular moment.
The suggestion that BeReal is a solution to social media addiction doesn’t hold up. It’s only posting that is limited to two minutes a day, not the consumption of content, and that’s the element of social media that is actually most addictive. BeReal allows you not only to view your friends’ posts, but features a ‘Discovery’ tab which constitutes an endless feed of other people’s images, so there’s no lack of content to scroll through.
There’s definitely a good argument that BeReal tackles comparison culture, because it does discourage users from presenting a curated feed of aspirational content that doesn’t reflect their real life. However, exposing the realities of young people’s lives actually exposes the inequalities in them, and could even make them feel worse about their situation compared to others. Imagine how it would feel for a teen to see their classmates’ luxurious family homes, while they’re posting from a small shared bedroom. The app also has the ability to reveal, as pointed out in a recent BuzzFeed article, that all your friends are hanging out without you.
BeReal might not quite be the solution to all social media’s problems, but we don’t expect this to hold it back from continuing its rapid growth. A scroll through the Discovery tab shows that the user base is very much made up of Gen Z, so the concept clearly resonates with them, and young people we’ve chatted to about the app described it as fun, especially when the notification to post comes through while they’re with their friends, leading to a scramble to get everyone involved in creating a cute and silly group shot.
The app has huge viral potential as word spreads and teens don’t want to miss out on seeing posts that are exclusive to BeReal. We’re also intrigued to see how the trend influences the more established social platforms. Could we see others implementing daily prompts to post as a feature within existing popular apps, such as Instagram or TikTok?
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