BeReal: how to market on the trending app

BeReal was one of the most downloaded social media apps in 2022. Is the newcomer also suitable for marketing?

BeReal is one of the top-trending apps right now – how can companies be visible on it?
Image: © Azee J/ / Adobe Stock

What is BeReal all about?

The name gives it away: the trending app “BeReal. Your friends for real.” is a social media channel where authenticity, spontaneity, and simplicity take center stage. Instead of unrealistic staged poses enhanced with Instagram filters, BeReal encourages authentic snapshots from everyday life. Here’s how it works: once a day, at any given time as chosen by a random generator, all users are asked to take a photo right there and then within two minutes. Both the front and back camera are activated simultaneously for this, meaning that not only the spontaneous selfie, but also the snapper’s current surroundings are captured.

The user’s contacts are notified whenever a new BeReal has been taken and can then react to the post using “RealMojis”. These aren’t like the ready-made emojis you’d find on other social media apps, but are instead an emotional reaction in the form of a facial expression captured using the app’s camera feature. True to life and off the cuff are therefore the name of the game when it comes to BeReal reactions.

Who uses the new social media format?

Developed in France in 2020, BeReal’s popularity exploded in mid-2022. By July of that year, the trending app’s weekly downloads had already overtaken those of big players like TikTok and Instagram; and in August 2022, it became the most frequently downloaded app in Germany. Apple subsequently crowned BeReal as the iPhone app of the year. Globally, the format has around 20 million active users each month.

According to a recent online survey conducted by OMD Germany, 15 percent of people aged 18 to 39 in Germany use BeReal.

The social media app responds to the growing demand – especially by lots of younger people – for authentic content without filters. As such, BeReal sees itself as the antithesis of Instagram content, which is notorious for depicting an artificial, illusory world. BeReal therefore particularly resonates with Generation Z and millennials, also known as Gen Y.

Is BeReal suitable for companies?

Values such as authenticity, credibility, and transparency are also a key consideration for companies when it comes to building their brand image and putting it out into the world. With that in mind, can the BeReal app be used as a social media platform for brand communication and targeted marketing measures?

Well, we have some bad news for you: BeReal’s terms state that it’s not intended for advertising or commercial purposes. As a result, there is currently no monetization model or an option to display ads.

What’s more, the unique idea behind BeReal doesn’t really cater to more complex marketing strategies. That’s because BeReals can only be created using the app’s camera feature, so you can’t upload images from the gallery or edit photos using filters beforehand. Sharing content that has been planned ahead of time is therefore out of the question. You also need to react quickly once you get the “Time to BeReal” notification. You can slightly get around the two-minute window for taking a picture by holding off opening the push notification, but if you capture the photo later in the day, it will be shown to friends as “late”. A post is also only visible to others until the next BeReal prompt comes in, so a maximum of 24 hours. If you post the photo later than you’re meant to, this interval reduces accordingly. In itself, the spontaneity required in terms of posting would be an organizational challenge for most companies, especially if the prompt happens outside business hours.

Another difficulty is that BeReals are mainly intended for personal contacts. Although content can be made visible to all users via the Discovery feature, it seems to only be displayed fairly randomly without an underlying algorithm. There are no hashtags, shares, likes, or comments, which additionally limits the visibility of such content for the intended target group.

What marketing options do you have on BeReal?

The potential offered by BeReal from a marketing perspective is therefore currently pretty limited. And yet, some companies are already ahead of the game by experimenting on the platform – including the fashion group Mango, cosmetics manufacturers e.l.f. Cosmetics and Biossance, and the American fast casual restaurant chain Chipotle. One clever way in which businesses can use BeReal is to encourage their employees to become corporate influencers. When prompted to take a photo of themselves and their surroundings, this is an ideal opportunity to share behind-the-scenes content and an authentic glimpse of their company’s work methods, production processes, and more.

Despite the obvious goal of spontaneity, planning this content in advance is highly recommended. For example, you could create a BeReal content management plan that envisages situations and storylines that would be great to capture each day, all while defining who is to be responsible for what. The following questions should always be considered: What aspects and how much of your internal processes do you want to and are allowed to show? What kind of insights will convey your brand message well?

BeReal: marketing of an experimental nature

Implementing a full-fledged marketing strategy on BeReal isn’t currently possible. Nevertheless, the new social media format gives companies options for presenting themselves to a target group who (also) values having a space away from the glamourous world of Instagram. That works best with BeReal corporate influencers offering a glimpse behind the scenes of their company and thereby contributing to a brand’s authenticity. A high degree of creativity is called for in this respect. Brands who dare to give BeReal a go have the chance to communicate with users in a largely unfiltered way and can surprise them with new content. However, they shouldn’t expect to generate an enormous reach with it.