There’s a new trend of ‘being real’ on social media - and it might just pay off for you and your business.

The trend for immediate, unvarnished content has accelerated with the rise of the photo-sharing social media platform BeReal, where users are actively encouraged to get candid and less filtered.

But this new approach to social media isn’t just limited to the BeReal app, it’s now spread to TikTok and is said to be coming to Instagram in the form of ‘Candid Challenges’, which is in the early stages of testing. TikTok Now, which is the all-powerful video-sharing platform’s version of the BeReal approach, has launched and is accessible via the second tab on the bottom of the app. Unlike BeReal, TikTok Now allows users to share a 10-second video alongside a static photo.

With the rapid spread of this type of content, it’s important that individuals, marketers and brands alike are aware of what exactly it means to be real. 

So, what are the benefits of this approach?

⚠️ Time to BeReal. ⚠️

2 min left to capture a BeReal and see what your friends are up to!

Once you’ve been sent this notification, it’s time to get real. You’ll be taken to the app and given two minutes to take a photo using your front camera and a photo using the back. Offering a different perspective to the usual social media posts, these photos allow a real glimpse into a moment in an individual's day. Once a day, each day, you get the chance to show exactly what you’re doing and what you’re looking at as the notification will arrive to every single user on the platform at a different time every day. You’ve taken your image and it’s now been shared to your friends only, or the public, depending on your audience settings. 

The random timing of the notification and the fact that users can only post once a day adds an element of surprise and excitement to the app. Plus, FOMO and the power of intrigue takes over as users are unable to view other friends' BeReal content until they’ve posted their own. Clever! 

So that’s how you actually take one, but what can we actually learn from this evolution in social media?

The push for authenticity

There’s a lot that brands can learn from an app that emphasises authenticity and genuine connections. For starters, it's time to ditch the practice of only sharing highlights and polished content as this can really skew people's perceptions of each other's lives - and it's just not real. 

Instead, brands and influencers alike should be embracing unedited and candid photos and let go of the pursuit of perfection that has been so ingrained in our social media experience. This has been an evident change with the introduction of raw ‘photo dumps’ on Instagram and unproduced TikTok videos.

The growth of these platforms and features reduces the pressure to perform or seek likes and vanity engagement. It's just about being authentic in our social media presence and fighting the urge to plan where your next BeReal will be taken. By doing this, we can all create a more genuine and relatable online presence. 

What does it mean to Be Real?

So how does BeReal support this new authentic approach? Launched in 2020 by GoPro alum Alexis Barreyat, BeReal saw a significant increase in downloads and usage following a $30m capital funding round and a paid ambassador program focused on building awareness on college campuses. The platform, which has a user base primarily made up of Gen Zers and college students, now has over 2.9 million daily active users and has experienced a 315% increase in downloads since the start of 2022, according to data from Social Media Today. 

One of the key aspects of the platform is that it pushes unedited content and currently has no ads or filters available, creating an authentic and genuine user experience. People tend to only add their close friends on the platform, as it prioritises real connections and allows users to search by name, contacts, or mutual friends. Brands looking to build a following on BeReal should keep in mind the close-knit nature of the user base and consider how they can authentically connect with users. 

It’s time for brands to get real

Even if you don't join BeReal as a brand, you can still get inspired by the idea of authenticity and think about how you can bring that into your own branding. Just keep in mind that while the opportunities for brands on BeReal may be limited with no pay-to-play advertising options, since it goes against the platform's ethos, you can still get creative and have some fun with your BeReal experience.

Take Chipotle, for example – they offered a discount code on BeReal and it was a hit! The fast-casual Mexican chain has embraced BeReal's values by prioritising the lo-fi nature of the platform and sharing transparent, authentic content that aligns with its brand. This approach is particularly effective with Gen Z consumers who demand humanisation, humour and honesty from brands. 

There are plenty of ways that brands could get involved in the BeReal approach, from behind-the-scenes snaps and limited-time offers. Could you provide a 24-hour offer that is exclusive to your BeReal connections to encourage urgency and ultimately, sales? However, don’t feel the pressure to be on every single social media platform. So, why not use the BeReal format as a marketing campaign across your other channels too? Ultimately, it's important to choose the platforms that are right for you and where your audience is sitting.

BeReal’s rise to fame shows no signs of slowing down any time soon, as its unique approach to social media as we’ve always known it, has attracted a large and engaged user base. Brands looking to succeed on the platform or other social media channels should prioritise their audience, create content that engages and appeals to their audience, and build genuine partnerships with creators.

Don’t forget to actually be real!

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