What is BeReal? – Social Media’s Next Big Thing

There’s a new kid in town, and everyone’s talking about it. If you’re tired of the ads and mainstream feeds common in most social media apps, then you’ll love BeReal. People are raving about the app, and many are intrigued. What makes it so unique and different from what we have now? 

BeReal claims to be the app where you can see your real friends without the filter. It advocates sharing raw moments that show the reality of life—but could it be the next most prominent social media platform? Let’s find out. 

What is BeReal?:

What is BeReal?

BeReal is a photo-sharing social media app that notifies users to post one unfiltered photo daily. At a random moment every day, you and your friends will get a notification that “It’s time to BeReal.” You have two minutes to take a photo of whatever you’re currently doing and share it with your friends. Once the two minutes expire, you can still take a picture, but it will show as a late post. You can’t view your friends’ posts until you’ve posted a BeReal moment. 

Two minutes is a short time to curate anything or even fix yourself in front of the camera, so most people post funny and awkward photos. This is the main design of BeReal—to catch you in the most boring and mundane moments of life. The app aims to contradict the prevalent issues with today’s social media platforms, where everyone displays perfectly curated and polished versions of their lives. 

BeReal’s Unique Features

BeReal has the following interesting features, most of which make it different from the social media norm:

bereal features

  • Dual Camera Capture Mode

bereal camera

BeReal simultaneously activates the front and back camera to take a photo. You take a selfie and a picture of your surroundings simultaneously. The selfie camera is small, and at first, all you’ll see is the view of the back camera. You can take as many shots as you want, but you can only post one. Since there’s a countdown timer, there’s added pressure to finish your photo and post it before the time’s up. 

  • Memories

Bereal Memories

BeReal posts are removed from the timeline when a new BeReal moment is captured. If you want to view your past BeReal, you can go to Memories. This is accessible from your profile page. It shows a calendar of all your BeReal captures, and you can click on each one to view them. Memories are only visible to you, and there’s no option to share them outside the app. However, you can click on each photo and share them individually. 

You can deactivate this feature if you prefer BeReal to delete all photos and not store them as memories. Every image will be permanently deleted when you take a new BeReal. At the end of the year, you have an option to create a video of all your BeReal memories. 

  • RealMojis

Bereal RealMojis

RealMojis are reaction emojis using your face instead of the classic reaction buttons. You can activate RealMojis by tapping anywhere in a BeReal or clicking the smiley button. It will open a RealMoji view where you can select your reaction and then follow the on-screen instructions to take a selfie. You cannot react to your posts and can only respond to others’ BeReal moments. 

  • Discovery

bereal Discovery

BeReal has a Discovery tab that allows you to view publicly posted photos. After taking a picture, you can make it either viewable by the public or your friends only. If you set privacy to public, it will appear in the Discovery pane. If you like meeting new people on a social media app, the Discovery tab is an excellent way to start. You can click on a user, and an option to “Add Friend” will appear.   

  • Random Notification

Bereal Notification

BeReal’s defining feature is the synchronized random notification. Users have described how it comes at the most unexpected moments of their day. While it can be unnerving, you quickly get used to it. Users who attempt to complete within the two-minute timeframe when the notification arrives produce the most unfiltered and surprisingly creative photos. 

If you let the timer pass, you can still take a late BeReal. Just note that it will have a late indicator plastered at the top telling your friends how many hours have passed since you were notified to take a picture.

  • Zero Followers

Unlike other social media apps, you can’t have followers on BeReal. You can add as many friends as you like, but they need to post a BeReal moment to view your post. Coupled with the once-a-day post, the app prevents lurkers or followers that have powered the rise of influencer marketing in apps like TikTok and Instagram. 

You can’t be famous on the app, even if you make your BeReal moments public.   

Getting Started on BeReal

Signing up for the app is straightforward. Once you download it from Google Play or the App Store, you are prompted to enter your name and create a username. You need to provide your phone number to receive a one-time code. Once verified, you’re signed in to the app. 

You can import your contact list to find friends or manually search for their user names to add them. The app uses phone numbers as the sole method for registration. Your email and other social media platforms are not connected. 

After signing up and adding friends, you are asked to take your first BeReal capture of the day. You’ll be notified the next day again. You can’t choose the notification time, but you can set your time zone to ensure you receive it during the daytime. 

You can only view your friends’ posts and the discovery portion after you post your BeReal moment for the day. Since everyone can post only once and all previous posts are removed from the timeline, you won’t see thousands of posts and be prevented from mindless scrolling. 

BeReal Key Statistics

BeReal Key Statistics

In the two years since BeReal was first introduced to the market, it has shown massive growth. It has been installed more than 28 million times since 2020 and sees 21 million active users monthly. More than 50% of installations happened this year after BeReal launched a massive college ambassador program to grow the app. 

Most of the app’s growth has been through word-of-mouth among Gen Z users. Like the early days of Facebook, the founders targeted high school and college students using grassroots marketing tactics. They hosted college parties, placed billboards, and provided cash referrals.  

The app was developed in France by Alexis Barreyat and Kevin Perreau. They are the current owners, and seed investments drive app revenues. Recently, the app raised $30 million in funding and is valued at $600 million. BeReal doesn’t have any advertising or monetization model at present. Only time will tell how the app will earn in the future. 

An Instagram Alternative

The rise in popularity of BeReal is partly attributed to how Instagram has alienated some users with its transition to Reels and its algorithm’s tendency to show posts from creators rather than friends. The clamor for authenticity has also pushed most people to look for social media alternatives that don’t advocate curated looks. Even the trend of creating seemingly casual but staged photos didn’t resonate with users who crave genuine engagement. 

With the attention BeReal has been getting, Instagram has taken action and released a Dual Camera filter that allows you to take a photo of your surroundings and a selfie simultaneously. It’s also testing a feature that incorporates a QR code in your posts, which your followers can scan to view the exact map location where the shot was taken. This is similar to BeReal’s location function, which shows a map-like interface telling your friends exactly where the BeReal moment was captured. 

While the features have yet to roll out, the functionality appears problematic for users who don’t take privacy too seriously on the app. Since Instagram posts are primarily public and viewable by many followers, nefarious individuals can take advantage of unknowing users. But these fears have yet to materialize, and at the moment, a more significant concern for the social media behemoth is if it can rival BeReal’s emerging success. 

Issues with BeReal

Like any new app that has seen rapid growth, BeReal has bugs and glitches that make the user experience frustrating for some. People have complained of not receiving notifications and being penalized with a late mark for posting later in the day. Some have reported being unable to accept or send friend requests, while others lament how laggy the app can sometimes be. 

Most of these glitches are forgivable, considering the app’s sudden increase in users. The developers have claimed to be working on the issues and welcome any feedback from the community. But apart from technical glitches, some users who’ve been on the app for quite some time are not convinced they’d use it for long. 

For one, you’d be interested in the app if your friends were also on board. If they aren’t, you will end up looking at strangers’ BeReal moments in the Discovery tab, which can quickly lose appeal as most are repetitive photos of computer screens, random roads or buildings, messy houses, and the many mundane things that comprise life. BeReal was created to give you a glimpse of your friends’ real lives, and if they’re not on the app, there doesn’t seem any sense in using it. 

When using the app for the first time, most struggle with taking a perfect photo and quickly realize it’s not entirely possible. The app catches you in many unglamorous moments and teaches you to embrace the raw footage of your life. But those who give themselves a few days to adjust soon discover that the app brings a new perspective to appreciate the social connections they have online. 

Is it Time to BeReal?

BeReal is an engaging social media app that addresses the current issues with social media giants. Social media platforms were created to engage and connect with friends and, in their early days, were filled with raw and unfiltered depictions of one’s life. 

However, with the rise of the creator economy and influencer marketing, entrepreneurial individuals have seen an opportunity to earn from these platforms. The proliferation of curated feeds and glammed-up posts created a surreal and unrealistic view of life for most people. This created a void among those who wish to see and connect with real friends. 

The constant barrage of targeted ads has also made it harder for some to connect directly with friends and keep tabs on their lives. Not to mention that most social media platforms encourage prolonged engagements leading to increased screen time. This has been viewed as detrimental to a person’s overall health. 

These issues have led many aspiring developers to create antithesis social media apps that go against the tide created by the industry giants. Apps like BeReal hope to recreate the authenticity and unadulterated joy of social media platforms in the past. Several previous apps have been tried but failed, and we have yet to see if BeReal will succeed this time. 

Is BeReal a passing phase or a trend that’s here to stay? Will it grow to the levels of Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, or will it remain a niche social media app that’s good now and then but not widely adopted? There are no answers yet and only sustained interest in the app will reveal them in time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does BeReal work?

Users will receive a notification to take a photo at a random time during the day. They have two minutes to take a selfie and post it on the platform. Multiple retakes are allowed within the time limit, but friends will see how often you attempt to take the picture. You can post after the time limit, but it will be marked late. 

Users won’t see what their friends post for the day unless they post their photos. Photos disappear after a day, but you can view your own captures on the Memories page under your profile. This is hidden from friends. 

You can comment and react to your friends’ posts with RealMoji, selfies that mimic an emoji’s reaction. Posts are private by default and viewable only by friends, but you can make them public, so they’ll appear in the Discovery tab along with other public BeReal moments. 

Who can see my BeReal?

Only friends you’ve added to the app can see your BeReal unless you tick the option to make them public. You can also opt to add a location on your posts to show your friends where you took the BeReal. 

Is the BeReal app safe?

Like any social media platform, there are inherent risks with using BeReal, such as interacting with strangers and accidentally sharing sensitive information online. The app doesn’t moderate posted photos, and it’s possible to encounter sensitive or vulgar images in the feeds. If you’re concerned for the safety of your kids using the app, always exercise general caution in monitoring their screen time. 

BeReal also shares location information. Be careful with the location setting, and don’t toggle it unless you’re comfortable sharing your location with friends or the public. 

Does BeReal tell if you screenshot?

Yes. BeReal alerts users if someone screenshots their posts. On an iPhone, it shows an icon with the number of people who’ve taken a screenshot. On an Android, it shows as a yellow dot without any other indication. If you’re worried about untrusted people taking a screenshot of your BeReal, set the privacy setting to Friends only and control the people you add as Friends to your account. 

How Does BeReal make money?

BeReal doesn’t have any monetization tool or ad revenue program setup. It relies on seed funding to earn, and the app remains a free platform. There are no ads or subscription fees. There are also no incentives for influencers to use the platform since it doesn’t advocate gaining many followers.

About the Author
Geri Mileva, an experienced IP network engineer and distinguished writer at Influencer Marketing Hub, specializes in the realms of the Creator Economy, AI, blockchain, and the Metaverse. Her articles, featured in The Huffington Post, Ravishly, and various other respected newspapers and magazines, offer in-depth analysis and insights into these cutting-edge technology domains. Geri's technological background enriches her writing, providing a unique perspective that bridges complex technical concepts with accessible, engaging content for diverse audiences.