Much of social media is curated and unsustainable, filled with only the best moments of a person’s life. Users, especially Gen Z, have been trying to find pockets of realism on these platforms. With the creation of “finstas,” or fake Instagram accounts, teenagers and young adults have created a small trusted community where their true personalities and lives can be shared. More recently, photo dumps have allowed people to post more casual yet curated pictures of their day-to-day lives using Instagram’s carousel feature. However, it isn’t until the introduction of BeReal that we see such a direct and deliberate effort from a platform to promote authenticity.
What is BeReal?
BeReal is an app that models itself as the antithesis of current-day social media. The app simultaneously sends all users one notification each day at a seemingly random time. From that notification, users have two minutes to take a double-sided picture, utilizing both the front and back camera, of what they are doing at that moment. If the user ends up retaking the photo, their friends can see just exactly how many times retakes occurred. Users are also unable to see what their friends have posted until they themselves have posted. Without the ability to edit or filter, the platform is asking everyone to simply be more real.
Due to the desired shift towards candidness and authenticity, people have been flocking to BeReal. According to Apptopia, in the year-to-date, BeReal has grown its monthly active users up to 315%. However, competitors have started to take note of their rapid growth and are looking to capitalize on their own.
Instagram’s Candid Challenges
Instagram has been known to adopt features from its competitors: from Snapchat’s Stories to the creation of Instagram Reels following TikTok’s success. In an effort to remain relevant to a younger generation, Instagram is now looking to test out its own BeReal-esque feature called Candid Challenges.
Much like BeReal, users will be sent out a notification at a random time and have to take a picture within two minutes. This picture will then be uploaded onto their Instagram Stories. While this feature is still in its testing phase, the addition of Instagram’s Candid Challenges will allow the platform to retain and expand its user base and help its users combat the developing pressure of perfection social media has created.
However, since Instagram can be seen as one of the original platforms that contributed to the modern-day idea of an influencer, it will be interesting to see how their older and more established users take to this addition.
TikTok has also recently rolled out a similar feature called TikTok Now where users will receive a prompt to take either a 10-second video or a static picture of what they are doing at that time.
This transition for TikTok would likely perform differently than BeReal: whereas TikTok’s platform is based more on pushing out novel content from strangers, BeReal’s users interact within their own existing social circles. Therefore, on TikTok, the users might be seeing more relatability from their favorite influencer rather than their friends.
BeReal has the challenge of competing against social media titans like Instagram and TikTok. However, it does hold the advantage of being an app solely dedicated to authenticity. It is too soon to see exactly how extensively Candid Challenges and TikTok Now will impact BeReal’s growth. Still, it is undeniable that social media is now transitioning towards an era where authenticity and relatability will be highly sought.