13 Sep 2022

We test BeReal – the “real” experience

“Your friends for real” – that is the promise of the new social media app BeReal. The principle behind it is very simple. Once a day, users receive a notification on their smartphone. Then the clock starts ticking. A picture must be taken with the front and main camera within two minutes. It cannot be edited, the limit is one picture per day. The aim of all this time pressure is to present the users as “real” as possible, to give insights into real life.

Like any social media app, BeReal is very easy to install:

  • Enter your name and date of birth,
  • create an account with a mobile phone number,
  • enter the confirmation code, create the username,
  • allow or disallow the app to access contacts,
  • and then already comes the request to post the first picture.

This is where the thoughts start to bubble: 
What do I post now? Which location do I choose? What can I show and what not? These are questions that always run through your head when you make a social media post – and which the 2-minute limit puts a hard stop to. The result of the post: nothing special, nothing aesthetic, but authentically real everyday life. After the picture has been taken, a description can be added. Then you can choose whether the picture should only be shown to friends or publicly in the “Discovery” area. This completes the post.

In the feed, users can see all the pictures that friends have posted, and in the Discovery area, you can get an insight into the everyday life of people from all over the world. But beware, if you don’t post a picture yourself, you won’t see the other pictures either. The real friends can be added in a separate area via the user name or the mobile phone number. The requested person has to confirm – this way you are friends with each other.

The conclusion after three days on the app:
The authentic insights into the lives of others are likeable. You recognise your own experiences in the pictures and can identify with them. You don’t want to miss the notification and the chance to post.

Digging a bit deeper after two weeks:
After a little more than two weeks with BeReal, strengths and weaknesses can be identified. Should organisations take the plunge on the channel? Or will BeReal soon disappear into the collection of unused apps?

The initial euphoria has faded, BeReal is already a – sometimes troublesome – part of the day. The app does not quite offer what it promises. Users are only conditionally bound to the two minutes, the daily post can also be published at any other time.

What actually throws the concept of the app out the window, however, offers advantages for the communication of organisations:

  • Time for staging – You can appear spontaneous even if you are not.
  • The appearance is clean and polished, the pictures are professional. In return, you have to admit that you are not really “real” in this way.
  • Regular post rhythm – Content planning is possible, posts can be published selectively as with other channels.
  • Pioneering position – BeReal is currently a pioneering organisation. This is a huge opportunity to stand out.

However, you have to come to terms with the features of the app. On the other hand, there are dangers in using it: Little is known about the app in terms of security. It recognises the location, time and picture environment of a post. The question arises whether this data is collected in order to recognise patterns in the everyday life of users and whether the data is used further.

An organisation needs to make people aware of its presence on BeReal through other channels, as only its own contacts are shown to users at the beginning. It may be that no one takes the trouble to add the organisation to their list of friends. Practically, you only reach those users who already have an interest and affinity for the organisation. The discovery area is too diverse and wide-ranging to communicate specifically to new target groups.

What is BeReal particularly suitable for? 
The app can be used excellently in the areas of employer branding and product communication. Simply put the smartphone in the hand of employees and let them document their everyday life via BeReal. This provides an authentic look behind the scenes. Whether it is the exchange between colleagues or the handling of one’s own products and services – it appears more likeable and credible if it is not staged, but “real”. Or at least it seems to be.

How will BeReal continue to develop?
For the platform to remain relevant in the long term, it needs more users. In Switzerland, BeReal is still too unpopular to be considered an important platform. Once it becomes successful, the question arises as to how the (commercial) use of the app will develop. Will it be possible to place advertisements? This can have a big impact on the users’ opinion, but it is the only way to get money and influencers onto the platform. Will BeReal put a stop to this or will the app become like any other social media platform? Questions that can perhaps be answered in the future by a long-term experience report.

Access to the ECCO Global Communications Network is simple. Contact information for a specific geography is available on the agency overview pages accessed here or contact the ECCO Global Communications office in London at +44 7899941744 or via email