Why is BeReal so popular?
The rise of BeReal, the social media app that triggers users to post a daily spontaneous snapshot of their life, has been slowly simmering away for months. But it took a recent backlash against Instagram’s disastrous updates to catapult BeReal into exponential growth.
“It’s one of my favourite social networks to be honest,” says managing director of social agency We the People, Jacob Arnott. “It’s like an anti-Instagram. The mundane element of it, the rough and raw and unpolished content, is really interesting.”
Data from Google trends, which ranks a search term’s popularity out of 100, shows BeReal shot from 38 to 92 points the same week Instagram user @illumitati launched the Kardashian/Jenner-backed “Make Instagram Instagram Again” campaign.
This year, more and more users started to complain that Instagram has become bloated with too many features, ads and third-party videos that have trashed the app’s beginnings as a personal photo-sharing platform. The ire against Instagram amped up after short, full-screen video “reels” – often just recycled TikToks – were injected into users’ feeds.
In the new social media landscape, TikTok dominates the attention of Gen Zs seeking entertainment, Snapchat is for group chats, and BeReal satisfies the desire for intimate connection with close friends. That leaves Instagram out in the cold.
“What made Instagram great is not on Instagram anymore,” Arnott says. “This really aesthetic, polished place doesn’t necessarily have a place in the set anymore for a lot of younger users. It’s in no man’s land.”
Gen Z marketing graduate Portia McKee posts on Instagram about once a month, but BeReal keeps her coming back every day.
“You see people post their Instagram stories when they’re out and about with friends, at a restaurant or event, but you usually don’t see people just hanging out at their houses, at the supermarket or even just a comfort thing of seeing that someone else is also in bed watching YouTube,” McKee says, adding she enjoys seeing a more intimate side of her friends.