Why Gen Z’s new favorite photo app is shaking up social media

Why Gen Z’s new favorite photo app is shaking up social media

No influencers, no ads, no edits, and one post a day to “be real” — that’s the foundation of BeReal, a new social media app making waves among Gen Z.

Conceptually the polar opposite of Instagram, the app, launched in 2020 by French entrepreneur Alexis Barreyat, has amassed nearly 2.7 million downloads as of May 2022 in the US alone, followed by France, its country of birth.

Users can post once a day within the two-minute window allotted by the app, and the content will disappear after 24 hours and be stored in the user’s private archive. After clicking on the notification that appears once a day, two images are clicked, one with the rear camera and one with the front camera.

“BeReal will not make you famous,” the company’s team said in a statement to Yahoo Finance. “If you want to be an influencer, you can stay on TikTok and Instagram.”

There are no photo filters available and no number of friends will give the user the upper hand in using the app. Friends can comment and respond with “RealMojis” that prompt the user to take a mini selfie instead of responding with regular emojis. Reruns of a post will appear as text with the image notifying the viewer.

“Gen Z values ​​authenticity and rejects social norms,” ​​Maria Beatriz Lopes, a London-based PR rep and early Gen Z user of BeReal, told Yahoo Finance. “Whereas Instagram promotes an ‘ideal’ of life, BeReal instead shows the ‘real’ us, without filters. We feel more natural and have more connections with our peers, which is essentially what the generation appreciates.”

“Changing the way we interact with social media”

BeReal’s popularity compared to Instagram is reflected in its ranking in the App Store, as it currently beats both Instagram and Meta (META).

Instagram seemed to have recognized its competition as it introduced a front and rear camera feature similar to BeReal last week.

“There will always be new things in how we communicate digitally, and if Meta takes notice and adds similar capabilities, then yes, BeReal is changing the way we interact with social media,” Sarah Keeble, director of marketing at Verb, an agency for digital marketing, Yahoo Finance said. “It will be interesting to see if consumers continue to use the platform or similar features.”

Data from Apptopia shows that BeReal’s downloads have increased by 315% since the beginning of 2022, making it the second most downloaded free app on iPhone in the US

The app challenges the traditional revenue generator on social media. Many in the social media community have dubbed it “anti-Instagram,” especially as Instagram relies on ad revenue, according to Statista, with the US being the leading social media ad market.

“Meta monopolized the social media space for over a decade,” Keeble said. “They quickly innovated to keep up with their competitors. We saw them introduce stories and VR fillets as Snapchat overtook them on the app charts.”

Screenshots from the BeReal app.  (Photo: App Store)

Screenshots from the BeReal app. (Photo: App Store)

Brands benefit from BeReal

BeReal has also started to gain momentum with large companies.

According to Entrepreneur, more than 97% of Fortune 500 companies used social media as their primary marketing platform in 2018.

Mexican fast-food chain Chipotle (CMG) has started using BeReal to reach its majority Gen Z user base after promoting its first 100 customers a promo code for a free entree in the app.

PacSun, an American retail brand, has also used the app for marketing purposes.

A screenshot of Chipotle's promo via the BeReal app.  (Be honest)

A screenshot of Chipotle’s promo via the BeReal app. (Be honest)

“In reality, not many will change their marketing,” Keeble said. “However, there is already a movement in the industry to share more authentic and human content. This was guided by TikTok’s humor and lo-fi nature. Again, we can take that back for the need for human connections — perhaps an impact of the pandemic.”

As BeReal’s platform continues to grow, there will likely be more promotional opportunities for innovators, she said.

However, Keeble added, “I suspect the majority of brands will be laggards. We still encourage brands to go on TikTok.”

Tanya is a writer for Yahoo Finance.

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