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Is It Time for Brands to BeReal?

Published on Sept. 22, 2022, at 11:04 a.m.
by Jamie Zimmerman.

The latest social media craze, BeReal, has become the current obsession for Gen-Z. BeReal is a social media app that notifies users once a day at a random time to capture what they are doing in that current moment within a two-minute window.

What makes this app unique is the overall goal to drive users to be authentic with one another: to be real on social media. Only prompting users to post once a day constrains them from spending hours on the app, or obsessing over likes and comments, as they would with other social media platforms.

Though the app launched in 2020, BeReal gained major popularity most recently in the summer of 2022. The number of daily active users sprung from around 71,000 in 2021 to almost 3 million in July 2022. When platforms grow this rapidly, we can almost always assume that celebrities, brands and companies are going to want to get in on the publicity action.

The question I pose is: Should brands BeReal?

In the eyes of the brand, the answer is almost always yes, in the sense that it wants to stay relevant with the trends of its audience. For example, look at how major brands are using TikTok today to elevate their PR strategies and messages targeting the younger generations.

When TikTok first took over the social media scene, a lot of companies were hesitant to join; they weren’t sure it was the right platform or audience for them to get their messages across. Now, TikTok plays a huge role in publicity, marketing and advertising. It has become a useful tool in how companies plan out campaigns to reach their specific audiences.

Platforms like TikTok and BeReal appeal to the younger crowd, which allows brands to engage in different approaches and to round-out their media presences. It’s safe to assume that many companies may start trying their hands with BeReal.

Chipotle is one example of a company that found success in using BeReal to interact with customers. Chipotle joined BeReal in April of 2022 and has mostly used the app to share exclusive promo codes with users. In its first posting, the promo codes were gone in just 30 minutes. Every day following, they were all gone within a minute of posting. Now, Chipotle is looking to continue brainstorming the best ways to use BeReal to connect with its Gen-Z market.

Using nontraditional media messages is a creative way for brands to strengthen their relationship to their audiences. If brands continue to join BeReal, we could start seeing more authentic and behind-the-scenes content from them — creating a variety of new approaches to communication tactics, especially since BeReal does not currently allow formal paid advertising.

From the media-consumer standpoint, users might not want to see brands on BeReal at all. Of course, there is the interest in seeing new, unfiltered content from your favorite celebrities and brands, but there is also the fear that it might break the originality of the platform if the pages start flooding with brand posts.

The purpose of BeReal is for users to be able to see the authentic lives of their friends and followers. Would companies on BeReal take away from that authenticity and make it too close to traditional social media forms?

Or perhaps the BeReal buzz will run its course before we even get the chance to find out.

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