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    ‘Time to BeReal’: social media fad or potential marketing tool?

    BeReal is the breakout social media app of 2022, but is it a welcoming environment for brands? Tori Attwood of agency No Brainer investigates.

    BeReal is the latest social media trend to take the world by storm. The app has received over 28m downloads since its launch in 2020 and now pulls in over 21 million active users. The surge in the app’s popularity has seen a dramatic increase, from a mere 10,000 users a little over a year ago to the very top of the list of free apps on Apple’s App Store.

    BeReal sends out a prompt to all users at a random time each day. Once the notification has been received, users then have a two-minute time limit to upload a candid photo of what they’re doing, right there and then. Photos posted after the window are marked ‘late’ to other users.

    The app has been hailed for its more authentic take on social media. Its explosive growth has attracted the attention of marketing-savvy brands looking for a taste of the action.  

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    Why is it popular?

    Authenticity plays a key role in the app’s popularity. By now, we’re all aware of the unrealistic expectations that are presented through social media. But BeReal’s real-life approach gives us nowhere left to hide. Its surge in popularity suggests that people may well have had enough of unrealistic depictions of ‘real life’ online.

    As social media users (and the same goes for celebrities and influencers), we choose to exclude the lows, the negatives and the ugly parts. We create a version of ourselves we want the world to see, sharing overly airbrushed, hyper-real content showcasing an ideal that’s as unachievable as it is desirable to many. The sad truth is that many studies have found that this can lead to negative self-evaluation and subsequent mental health impacts.

    It can be argued that this is the root cause of BeReal’s rise, with these immediate, everyday images providing a more relatable representation of real life, which can help to build community and connection in place of clout.

    It’s no myth that our attention spans are getting shorter. With gen Z being the app’s target demographic, it’s no surprise that BeReal has decided to employ a common social media consumer strategy.

    The app implements a signature two-minute countdown timer, much like Twitter’s 280 characters or Vine’s six-second loops. Spending less time on any individual social media post allows us as users to digest more content in a shorter time.

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    Businesses taking on the challenge

    Unlike any other social media site, BeReal allows users to participate in the app without any advertisements. With no advertisements, sponsorships or influencers, BeReal poses a challenge for social media marketers.

    The app currently excludes brands from having a formal presence through conventional ads, at least for now. However, this hasn’t stopped brands such as Chipotle, Trident Gum and Love Island from jumping on the trend, using BeReal as a promotional tool.

    Chipotle shared a series of promotional codes via the platform, each allowing customers one free entrée. Sharing promo codes on the app was an instant success; all available codes were claimed in under 30 minutes.

    American clothing brand PacSun has also joined the conversation, using BeReal to flaunt models sporting the brand’s swimwear and denim jean collection alongside the caption, “it’s time to BeReal.”

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    Other brands have taken to other social platforms to flaunt their versions of the app.

    Chewing gum brand Trident used the app to advertise Sour Patch Kids with the caption, “made gum together, might as well BeReal together.”

    ITV2’s Love Island also took advantage of the craze. Love Island’s official Twitter account shared a composite BeReal as a meme, with the caption, “If Luca posted a BeReal.”

    <blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>If Luca posted a BeReal… <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/LoveIsland?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#LoveIsland</a> <a href=”https://t.co/xsheIgnPSo”>pic.twitter.com/xsheIgnPSo</a></p>&mdash; Love Island (@LoveIsland) <a href=”https://twitter.com/LoveIsland/status/1548767578067292160?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>July 17, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

    As the app is still in its infancy and in much need of further development, it may be that BeReal has not yet implemented ads for lack of public image but (like YouTube and TikTok) will later introduce them as the app finds wider investment.

    Either way, brands are now beginning to leverage BeReal to implement a brand awareness strategy. Rather than relying on sponsored ads, pop-ups and influencers, companies have been featuring behind-the-scenes snapshots from meetings, shoots, promo codes and everyday office life to promote products and services.

    And although the app continues to expand rapidly, it’s not worth giving up on other social media strategies just yet. While the ascent of BeReal could be a passing moment in social media, perhaps it’s best to jump on the bandwagon before it blows up.

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