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It’s Time to #BeReal: The New Kid on the Block that has TikTok and Instagram playing CopyCat

since tiktok, bereal is the first social media account i’ve signed up for that i actually regularly use in daily life, and that those around me have started to use with equal enthusiasm. a friend of mine recently referred to it as ‘the new tiktok’.

the logo for bereal. source: openverse. licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

i personally downloaded bereal in april of this year (2022) – the platform itself, created by a french company, is barely two years old. and despite it’s youth in the world of social media platforms, bereal is making waves in a way that is comparable to tiktok’s surge in popularity the past four years.

with a ridiculous 29200% increase in downloads in the past year that now sits at over 10 million daily active users, its the first app to achieve that kind of exponential growth since. with bereal reaching the #1 spot on the ios app store in july 2022, and a current valuation (with no means of making revenue) of 600 million euros from investors, tiktok is arguably no longer the hottest, newest thing on the block. 

BeReal Daily Active Users Visualization. source: Online Optimism. licensed under CC BY 4.0.

but before we do a deep dive into the significance of bereal as a digital platform, what is it? 

in a bid to promote authenticity and the ever evasive feeling of ‘living in the moment’ on social media, bereal is essentially a photosharing app. 

each day at a random time, users are sent out a notification (one that i’ve come to recognise at the drop of a hat) that says ‘it’s time to bereal’. upon clicking the notification, users are then given two minutes to take a picture of whatever they’re up to at the moment – the dual camera function takes a picture using both the front and back camera at the same time to make the resulting picture even more ‘real’. 

a screenshot of the daily BeReal notification on my phone. source: me.

each affordance is valiantly aimed at promoting transparency and capturing a genuine moment in time. bereal is devoid of filters and editing features – so editing out a pimple or even drawing over a messy room isn’t an option. you also can’t see other people’s posts until you’ve posted- and every bereal disappears after 24 hours. no chance of stalking profiles here!

the number of times you retake your bereal is also public for your friends to see. whereas instagram stories are populated with nights out, thirst traps and highlight reels, when i scroll through bereal i’m presented with people vegetating in bed watching netflix, smashing out an assignment or even taking a sh*t. 

an assortment of bereals i have taken over the past couple of months. as you can see, most if not all are me watching netflix or studying. source: me.

bereal is designed to be the antidote to curation and inauthenticity – the company’s mission according to their website is to help users ‘discover who your friends really are in their daily life’. bereal’s description on the app store even tells users that if they want to become influencers, they can ‘stay on tiktok and instagram’. 

bereal’s meteoric rise has all the cool kids on the playground taking notice, and even playing copycat. this is pretty incredible for a platform that was virtually unknown at the beginning of this year. both tiktok and instagram have already tried their hand at incorporating the magic of bereal onto their platforms.

BeReal in the Apple App Store by Online Optimism. licensed through CC BY 4.0.

tiktok has announced ‘tiktok now’ – a feature than also prompts users every 24 hours or so to share dual-camera photo/short videos, and instagram has begun working on a similar feature called ig candid challenges. both instagram and snapchat have also already introduced dual-camera modes in their photo taking functions. 

while tiktok and bereal vastly differ in terms of platform affordances, the two apps seem to possess the same je nais se quois that places them at the forefront of cultural consciousness. i talked about how tiktok set itself apart, and set the standard for social media apps in a previous blogpost. they are trendy, relevant, and seemingly authentic. they spark conversation, and become a staple in our daily routines. 

a tweet showing a submission to twitter account @bestbereals, in which the bereal user is meeting president of the united states joe biden. source: @bestbereals on twitter.

accounts dedicated to showcasing compilations of the ‘best bereals’ (think skydiving, graduations, and getting arrested) are popping up across social media – sharing tiktok’s capacity for virality, although through different means. bereal is becoming a noun and a verb, like google – and has even infiltrated instagram posts.

a short explaining bereal on saturday night live. source: saturday night live youtube channel.

it’s become a trend to include an exported version of previous bereals to be included in a carousell instagram post. it’s been referenced on snl, and the company’s social media presence, particularly on twitter and tiktok, capitalises on virality and meme culture, employing a casual, funny brand voice like netflix. 

a tweet from the official bereal twitter account, taking a dig at tesla ceo elon musk. source @bereal_app on twitter.
a video from bereal’s official tiktok account poking fun at influencers attempted use of the app. source: @bereal on tiktok.

bereal is no doubt pushing the boundaries of what digital and social media can come to represent in our daily lives. being such a new phenomenon, its hard to say how bereal will fit into the world of social media marketing and advertising, particularly as company representatives emphasise their resistance towards introducing third party advertising features. but one things for sure, bereal has taken the world of digital media by storm, and everyone’s scrambling to be just as relevant.


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