If you ask those familiar with social media platforms they will tell you that Instagram is a platform to flex on how well you are doing socially. Only the best photos and videos with luxurious backgrounds of either products or scenery. The most polished version of the person but coincidentally the least authentic version of the same said person.
A social media company by the name BeReal decided to bring authenticity to the internet. And it’s a super interesting concept. It’s essentially Insta minus the filter. Pun intended. Their whole premise is that they want you to show your real life, in photos with your friends.
How does BeReal work?
Once a day you will be sent a notification by the app to post a picture of what it is you are currently up to. There is a 2-minute window where you can post this picture. But there is a catch in that the time of day you will receive the notification is random so you never know when it will come. Also, it uses both the front and rear cameras at the same time so we can see that lovely face of yours.
The app is about 10MB, very light compared to Instagram’s 50MB (Installation files. App may take up more storage once it is installed). It’s light because it really has no filter or anything to polish up how you look on it. What you have are reactions that you can use when interacting with someone else’s post and that’s it. An interesting aspect is also that, as much as the notification comes through at a random time of the day, it does so for everyone allowing people to not only engage with the real version of everyone but also to that with everyone at the same time. Whilst it all is still fresh and current.
Obviously, this does come with its own kinks. The most obvious one is that since it works by sending a notification in the blue random, it might, in a lot of cases, do so at the most inconvenient of times when taking a pic is an absolute no.
The other is that this also pressures you into posting even when you see the need to post. Some of us are used to posting on social media once a week or even less frequently. That pressure almost feels like it induces the same anxiety that Insta does with the typical user base only sharing their most polished versions of themselves.
Instagram’s reaction to BeReal
Instagram recently released Notes. If your app is fully updated you will see something different in your Instagram DM. Right at the top are your contact bubbles with a little bit of text within that bubble. You can create your own note with text and emojis within a character limit of 60. Instagram says they did some tests and concluded that people were interested in such a feature where they can share their thoughts. The notes last 24Hrs and responses are sent to your DM.
They are also working on Candid Stories which is very much a direct ripoff of BeReal, borrowing the 3 primary concepts of a random notification to share a pic, using both the rear and front-facing camera, and not implimenting any filters.
Candid Stories: We’re starting to test Candid, a new way for you and your friends to capture and share what you’re doing right now in a story that’s only visible to those who also share their own. Capture a candid from the stories camera, the multi-author story at the top of feed, or from the daily notification reminder that starts after your first candid. For those who don’t want to receive the daily notification reminder, you can always turn it off in your Settings. We’re also testing a similar feature on Facebook Stories.Meta
Chasing trends and chasing the bag
Instagram is under Meta and their intentions are clear. Build an audience by giving them a free platform and features that keep them on it. And in turn, sell that audience to advertisers. That’s how they keep the lights on. So anything that seems to be a trend attracting an audience to a platform is seen by Meta as a threat to the bag. Which then forced them to find a way to slap it onto one of their properties they see fit.
The obvious problem with this is that it starts becoming a heavy and clunky user experience because there is just so much stuff in your face. In trying to pick up every trend and incorporate it into the app, you start to see a loss in the identity of the platform.
We saw it when they introduced Reels which felt like a ripoff of TikTok. And thanks to TikTok putting watermarks on all content produced within the app, we see that an alarming number of reels on Instagram actually have TikTok watermarks meaning it’s also now acting as a platform to market TikTok to an Instagram audience. Simply because Reels does the same stuff TikTok does but TikTok is better at it than Instagram.
BeReal is saying that for now, they are not in the business of securing the bag but are focusing on improving the user experience. The app has no ads and all the content there is organic, user-generated content.
BeReal is free to use, and we don’t have ads. You may be wondering if we’ll have ads or how we think about monetizing the app. First, we want to stick around for as long as you’ll have us, but working with brands is not our priority. There are a lot of cool things we want to build, and we’re very lucky to be able to prioritize our time this way. We assure you, once we’re ready to share information, you’ll know.BeReal
Bills will need to be paid eventually so really it will come a time when the issue of monetization will be raised. Subscriptions usually don’t provide the sort of revenue that can keep a social media platform alive. WhatsApp tried it with a dirt cheap US$0.99 per year and still very few people paid. Unless their value proposition is a really solid one, that route is not going to change their lives. Ads are most likely their best bet for monetization but they are still in denial of that right now. It’s worth mentioning that they have survived for 2 years now with over 10 million app downloads on Google Play and it was the iPhone App of the year on Apple’s App Store.