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Founded in 2020, BeReal is a photo-sharing app that encourages users to share their lives authentically and essentially “be real.” French entrepreneurs Alexis Barreyat and Kévin Perreau originally designed the BeReal app to free users from concerns over followers, likes, ads, and filters.
In the summer of 2022, BeReal exploded in popularity, especially among Gen Z who craved authenticity. However, as quickly as the app shot to fame, some users are just as fast to drop the app. As of late, the app has been experiencing a decline in popularity, raising concerns about its future.
What is BeReal, and Why is it Popular?
BeReal sends users a notification, allowing them to post once each day. The notification comes randomly, encouraging users to capture their daily life as is in BeReal’s front and back camera post format. However, users cannot see their friends’ pictures if they don’t post. If you don’t capture a photo 2 minutes after the notification is sent, your BeReal will be marked late.
Additionally, as per the BeReal app design, photo retakes are noted to everyone to encourage more authentic photos. Other features include Realmojis, personalized selfie reactions that replace the standard system, and Discover, where you can see anyone’s BeReals from public profiles. It’s important to note that BeReal doesn’t do followers, hoping to discourage influencer culture and excessive scrolling on the app.
BeReal’s no-frills design and emphasis on authenticity resonate with both Gen Z and Millenials. These generations often find themselves negatively affected by today’s social media culture. As of February 2023, BeReal has 47.8 million monthly active users and 10.4 million daily active users from most of the US and the UK.
Why Are People Saying BeReal is Dying?
Plenty of creators have addressed concerns with BeReal’s future and how user retention is at an all-time low. TikTok account, @onlineoptimism, addressed BeReal’s current state and the developers’ current dilemma. Here’s a list of what plagues the BeReal app right now.
Are you still using BeReal? Without rolling out any significant new features, we fear that BeReal might not survive in 2024. #bereal #berealapp #berealwithme #bereal_app #socialmediamarketingagency #socialmediamarketer #socialmediamarketers #socialmedianews
1. Active Users Have Decreased Since August 2022
From a numerical standpoint, the number of users on the BeReal app has declined since its peak in October 2022. While 10.4 million daily active users is no small number, there were 20 million active users in October. That’s almost double that from the previous month! Moreover, BeReal has completely dropped off from Apple’s app store rankings. Trends come and go, and these signs may indicate that BeReal is merely a trend.
2. Being Real is Boring
BeReal and its quest for authenticity finds itself in a Catch-22. Some users report that the novelty of being real has quickly worn off. The sad truth is that pictures of daily life are often uneventful and repetitive. Furthermore, while admirable in theory, BeReal’s design to limit social media addiction works against its longevity as a social media app.
Other apps continuously roll out new features to keep their users entertained. In particular, the interaction element, filters, and endless scrolling of new content made TikTok here to stay. The BeReal app straddles an awkward line between being on and off social media.
To people who view social media as entertainment, BeReal cannot compete on entertainment value. To the people who are tired of social media, well, they could choose BeReal…or they could choose to be off social media entirely or even operate with fewer social media apps instead of adding BeReal to their daily mix.
3. Technical Issues
Another source of user frustration is the BeReal app’s frequent glitches, crashes, and bugs. When the BeReal notification pops up, millions of people rush to the app, causing the servers to crash. In a digital world full of competing distractions, people get tired of BeReal’s continual glitching and decreased usage.
4. Increased Competition
TikTok and Instagram saw BeReal as a threat and promptly took action, launching their dual-camera features (TikTok Now and Instagram Candid Stories). While these features haven’t surpassed BeReal in popularity, historical precedent states we’ll see the social media giants eat away at BeReal’s share, especially if they find a way to monetize these features, driving influencers and followers to utilize them.
5. No Definite Plan to Monetize in The Future
Much like how TV was once seen as “the thing between the advertisements,” the livelihood of all social media platforms depends on advertising money. The current lack of monetization is a significant concern because BeReal needs to find a way to fund a sustainable future.
However, ads are a no-go. BeReal’s founding principle essentially swears never to adopt ads. If they did, they would see a huge blowback, as ads compromise authenticity and destroy BeReal’s main draw. Rumor has it that BeReal is considering launching paid features and subscriptions. However, nothing has officially been rolled out yet.
Not only is monetization a concern for the BeReal app developers, but it is also an important consideration for creators and the Creator Economy. With other apps rolling out monetization features, influencers may not be incentivized to stick with the BeReal app. Influencers are some of the biggest producers of content, and people tend to follow where the content is.
How Can the BeReal App Improve?
It might be time for BeReal to own up to being a social media app. Unfortunately, focusing only on the most “real” branding version as the anti-social media social media app will lead to a convoluted paradox. However, there are many ways to be authentic, even if it’s not 2 minutes from notification authentic. This would be accomplished by adding new types of features, essentially gamifying the app.
Since BeReal’s founders initially emphasized the connection part of the app, why not incorporate questions and prompts for people to do? Apps like Checkmate already do this by asking deep questions and allowing users to compare their answers to their friends, evaluating compatibility. There are a lot of possibilities for BeReal to expand its features beyond photo-sharing while still maintaining its authentic edge.
Understandably, app monetization is a more complex issue as attempts can backfire, and most conventional methods blatantly contradict BeReal’s mission. That being said, for paid features to succeed, BeReal first needs to focus on fast growth and user retention.