It’s time to BeReal and embrace the rise of authenticity in marketing
By: Krishal Ramesh
January 4, 2023 | Reading Time: 6 mins
You’ve mastered Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. You’re finally thinking about tackling TikTok…but wait, a new challenger’s appeared! And it’s all about keeping it real.
Welcome, BeReal, the newest social media app that Gen Z is raving about.
What is BeReal?
BeReal is a new social media app that simultaneously sends all users a push notification once a day at a random time. It requires users to capture whatever they’re doing right at that moment using their phone’s front and back cameras. With no filter or editing, they must post it for their followers to see.
Users only have two minutes to take a photo which will disappear the next day. The only grid you can scroll through is your own memories, which are the BeReal photos you’ve taken in the past. Want to lurk people’s photos? You’re out of luck. You can only see a friend’s most recent BeReal photo after you’ve posted your own.
That sounds like a lot of rules. But the app actually aims to make social media as simple and authentic as it can be. Here’s a BeReal that I happened to take as I was working on this blog!
BeReal is disrupting the status quo of social media
We all know the discomforts of being connected and how social media feels like it was designed to be addictive. Remember the award-winning documentary, The Social Dilemma? This highly relatable film showed us the negative impacts that social media can have on mental health. In fact, youth who are on social media for three or more hours a day have a 50% higher chance of being depressed. Social networks push perfection with curated highlights of peoples’ lives, and this can make us view our own more negatively.
At this point, we all see through the influencer lifestyle. The Facetuned selfies. The stylized vacation photos taken at “golden hour”. The perfectly laid-out dinner table with the hashtag #mood. We’ve seen it enough, and we’re all aware real life doesn’t work like that.
It’s ⚠️ Time to BeReal ⚠️
Authenticity was the theme of 2022, and will only continue to grow in importance.
BeReal is built around authenticity. Its unique selling point is the emphasis on “real” content with a strict no-editing policy for photos and videos.
It encourages users to share unscripted, unfiltered moments from their everyday lives. For instance, my average BeReal feed consists of:
- a blurry photo of the ground because I’m on the go 🚶♂️
- my desk at work 🧑💻
- my bird, Tequila 🦜
- a half-covered selfie because I’m not always supermodel ready 🤳
Yes, it’s deeply mundane. That’s what makes it so unique to people who are sick of pretending their lives are strategically curated feeds. There’s something satisfying about seeing your friends post their unfiltered selves and be, well, real!
With BeReal winning Apple’s App of the Year, other social media giants have taken note and begun imitating its features. TikTok and Instagram have scrambled to release their own version of BeReal. While this suggests competition for the start-up, it also signals a larger trend at play. People want to be authentic on social media.
What does BeReal mean for marketers?
The desire for authenticity extends beyond social media. There’s a growing trend toward transparency in marketing too.
Gen Z is largely turning towards something that feels raw. While, simultaneously, the older audience is exhausted by the constant performance and advertising inundating their feeds. The fact is, more people are experiencing influencer fatigue and are getting way better at discerning authenticity within their feeds. The old model of advertising, where brands present a ‘perfect’ image, may no longer work.
So, how can companies BeReal?
Live, Laugh, Re-Share
The push for authenticity doesn’t mean that brands should stop producing high-quality content. What matters is that the content produced actually delivers a message with authenticity.
Data suggests that Gen Z users want to see content that is:
- Informational and helpful
Digital marketers can capitalize on this by leveraging user-generated content (UGC) in their campaigns. By sharing light-hearted or inspirational photos and videos from real customers, brands can show that they are relatable and authentic. Oh, and bonus, it’s free! When done the right way, with permission and proper credit, you can connect with your audience on a deeper level. Not only does this give you content but it can help elevate your users by bringing them in front of your massive followership. Who wouldn’t want Apple to reshare a photo of you took of your dog to their 29 million followers on Instagram?
Engage directly on social media
A key tool in the Digital Marketer’s social media toolkit is the ability to engage directly with their audience through comments and direct replies. How you handle comments is incredibly important because it provides you with the opportunity to connect with customers one on one.
To engage through comments, create a voice, tone, and personality to represent your brand online. This voice should be one that your audience resonates with–one that sounds like a friend.
You’re probably familiar with Wendy’s social media comments and replies. Sure they can be a bit crass, but you have to admit, she’s an icon.
Show that you care
Authenticity in marketing is not only about creating funny memes. Brands need to provide evidence of a more profound commitment. When a brand takes a meaningful stance on a social issue that matters to its audience, there is a 4-to-1 higher likelihood of purchase. Putting what your business actually believes front and center can help drive long-term loyalty. You need to show that their trust isn’t being taken for granted, and is worth something. This ultimately elevates the connection they feel to your brand.
Here’s an example. Apple was the talk of the town when it announced its new privacy feature that enabled users to turn off 3rd party tracking on their iPhones. This change was not received well by advertisers. In fact, Facebook paid for a full-page newspaper ad that claimed this new system will make it harder for advertisers to target their customers, and that they are standing up for small businesses. Right...
Although this move angered advertisers, Apple turned privacy into a business advantage. By facing off against Facebook (which had just been under fire for its shady privacy practices), Apple managed to gain public trust, and build a deeper connection with its audience by putting its beliefs front and center.
Be true to you
Of course, not every brand will be able to embrace this kind of authenticity in their marketing. Some products and services simply lend themselves more effectively to a curated, perfect image.
For those that can, the rewards can be great. In an age where people are craving genuine human connection, BeReal has opened the floodgates of commercial authenticity and gives marketers a powerful opportunity to take off their suits, and put on their PJs in an effort to meet their audience where they’re at.