Salzman says the presence of brands and celebrities on his platform will not be characterized by grandiosity. Instead, the spontaneous nature of the app will strip these idolized figures and brands of their glamor and larger-than-life personalities.
Time is everything
Jeremy Goldman, senior director at market research firm Insider Intelligence, compares the goal of BeReal’s new features to that of Instagram Stories. While Stories were intended to highlight casual, spontaneous snapshots of everyday life, the presence of public figures and corporate entities reshaped their impact. “When celebrities and top creators got involved, Stories became much more curated,” says Goldman. “It would be a surprise if there wasn’t some degree of healing (at BeReal) if everything goes ‘as planned.’”
The brands have been experimenting with BeReal for a moment. And February 6 won’t be the first time celebrities log on. Public figures including Billie Eilish and Joe Jonas have used the app casually, and BeReal has played (presumably also informally) with casual celebrity partnerships.
For example, a daily photo prompt from BeReal came out at the exact same time as the release of Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated album. 1989 (Taylor version). Salzman, remembering the surprising serendipity of this moment, sheepishly asked, “Who would have thought?”, subtly implying that this timing was intentional. (This despite the app’s official statement that it “doesn’t really know” when notifications are sent.)
“It was beautiful because you could see millions of Swifties grabbing their BeReal from the moment they discovered the new album,” Salzman says. “In the future, you could imagine them tagging Taylor Swift at that moment and then potentially sharing it again.” Salzman imagines the new feature will improve the fan experience, but he declined to answer whether she plans to schedule future BeReal notifications with celebrity and brand announcements.
Brands in particular will have to be especially calculated in their use of the app, says MaryLeigh Bliss, chief content officer at YPulse. “It has to be, in some way, a promotional moment,” she says. If brands are truly unaware of the timing of the notification, they will have to work hard to correct the unpredictability of the notification; After all, a certain brand’s social media manager can’t be caught in a competitor’s store.
“I think there’s a lot of construction that can be done right now,” Bliss says. “And I think if you’re a public-facing figure, you’re probably going to be very strategic about what you’re showing.”
So far, the BeReal experience has differed dramatically from that of TikTok and Instagram. Both often host feeds saturated with heavily filtered faces, digitally altered bodies, carefully edited compositions, neat graphics and branded content, all curated in a way that often prioritizes the platforms’ most impersonal posts. By contrast, BeReal, with its charming monotony, seeks to combat some of the inherited toxicity of social media by discouraging the false glorification of everyday life.
French entrepreneur Romain Salzman joined as BeReal’s COO in 2021, about a year after its initial launch, and a year before activity on the platform peaked: in November 2022, 21 percent of Americans ages 13 to 17 reported using the app, and it was named Apple’s “App of the Year”” same year.
Now, its hold on the public consciousness is diminishing; only 10 percent of that same demographic still uses the app. BeReal has been slow to adopt new features, possibly in an effort to maintain its reputation as a people-first platform. “They’re realizing that their market penetration a few years from now is just not where it could be,” Goldman says. “It’s been a while for the platform to accept that money and be receptive to it.”
But the primitive model is not sustainable from a business point of view, says Goldman. “It’s very difficult to get more money from any investor when you say, ‘We’re totally fine where we are.’ We’re an afterthought in the social media world and we’re fine with that,’” he says, noting that as of 2023, four percent of Gen Z and just one percent of the general population used BeReal, according to research your company. . “Good luck raising a little more to launch new features if that’s your modus operandi.”
While eventual monetization is certainly part of the plan, according to Salzman, it is “definitely not a priority today.” However, it is committed to preserving the app’s modest reputation.