How the search for authenticity pushes BeReal to become the #1 most downloaded social app
More than half (59%) of the world now uses social media. Over 4.50 billion people around the world currently use social media to stay connected with friends and family, with another 227 million new users coming online within the last 12 months.
Despite this impressive number, more people are lonely than ever before. Recent studies found that social media increases loneliness. In 1990 before the social media boom, only 3% of Americans said they had no close friends. Fast forward to 2021, and this number has risen to 15 %. Another survey found that 27% of millennials reported having no close friends, while 22% of them reported having no friends at all. Unfortunately, this trend is the same in other countries around the world.
So if billions of people are so connected on social media, why are we so lonely? Experts said that the connections we made through social media aren’t as real as we once thought–We’re connected virtually but disconnected in reality. Some sociologists also think that social media has “actually created a simulation of reality a simulation that we mistake for reality itself,” which in turn makes us miserable.
The problem of social “fakeness” is what led a new startup to launch an anti-social and Gen Z photo-sharing app called BeReal for people looking for real-life relationships. BeReal promises to strip away the fakeness you see on a social platform like Instagram and bring back authenticity to social media.
We wrote about BeReal back in March after the app took the internet by storm. As of the time of writing, BeReal is the number 1 most downloaded free app on the app store. The idea behind the app is very simple: The app prompts users to take one unedited photo a day.
BeReal first reached the top 20 on the Apple App Store’s list of top free apps in May. It was also the fourth most downloaded app in social networking, behind only Facebook’s three main apps.
Founded in 2020 by former GoPro employee Alexis Barreyat along with Kévin Perreau, the Paris, France-based BeReal is a photo-sharing app where users can spontaneously share life updates with their friends. In an already crowded photo-sharing space, BeReal takes a different approach, but with a slightly different twist.
How it works
BeReal’s idea is easy–it prompts users to take one unedited photo of themselves once a day at a random time after receiving a push notification. Users have two minutes to take, post and share a picture before it’s marked as late. Upon receiving the alert, the user can then see the photos their friends also posted.
Then after sharing their photos, they are then rewarded to see what their friends posted for the day and are able to comment or react with an emoji. The method seems to be working. According to app analytics firm SensorTower, eReal now has 20 million global installs to date.
“It’s silly but I feel like it serves a different purpose than Instagram or Snapchat,” Emily, a user who’s been on the app for about two months, told CNBC on condition we do not use her last name. “I have friends on it who I don’t communicate with on a regular basis but I appreciate getting a little window into what they’re doing once a day, even if it’s just sitting in front of their computer or on a walk.”
BeReal is not without controversies. Minutiae, an app launched in 2017 said it first came up with the idea that BeReal is using now: “alerts that instruct users to snap whatever it is they’re doing now.” Unfortunately for Minutiae, the startup failed to patent its so-called idea. Minutiae co-founder Martin Adolfsson also told TechCrunch that BeReal “borrowed pretty heavily” from his idea.