The BeReal Effect: A Trend Across Social Media

By Abbey Szumloz

Summer 2022 has come to an end, but everyone is continuing to #BeReal.

Wait, what?

Yup, there’s a new social media platform that has entered the mix. BeReal is a simple app that gives users a daily notification to “BeReal” by taking a photo with the front and back camera of their phone within two minutes of receiving the alert. This shows both what they’re doing in that moment and their reaction. The catch? The notification is random each day and can come at any time. Unlike other traditional social media apps, there’s no filters, no editing, no influencers, and most importantly: no ads. Also, users can’t see what their friends have posted until they post their own picture. This in-the-moment realness is the message BeReal is trying to push, and it’s working for the Gen Z audience.

The sudden popularity of this app can be attributed to the combination of its game-like quality and genuine authenticity. The timing also couldn’t be better. Recently, Instagram has received backlash for increasing sponsored content and pushing popular reels over your friends’ posts. Twitter has also noticeably increased their ad space by showing promoted content every 5 tweets on the main timeline. BeReal avoids this problem altogether by only including your friends’ posts on your main feed and not allowing advertising on the platform at all.

Well, if BeReal doesn’t allow influencers or advertising on their platforms, how can brands benefit from it?

The domination of this app shows us what Gen Z truly cares about when it comes to the online social network experience. This generation values authenticity, imperfection, and transparency. They simply don’t want to know or feel like they’re being sold to. These characteristics don’t have to be exclusive to the BeReal experience. These qualities can be shown in paid and organic media across all social platforms, especially Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.

When trying to target Gen Z, say goodbye to the polished ads, stock images, and sales pitches. The focus of your creative and copy should not be on the shiny statistics and minute data points that explain why your product or service is better than the rest. As soon as they realize they’re looking at an ad or a sponsored post, Gen Z is going to swipe right by it. The facts won’t be remembered as these users continue to mindlessly scroll through their feeds.

What will earn Gen Z’s attention is creating an ad that blends into the rest of their feed seamlessly. The protocol used to be to make an ad obvious to stand-out to the user. Now, since ads are so common within a user’s feed, it’s better to blend in and seemingly break the cycle of ads every two or three swipes. Keep the ad simple, keep it trendy, and keep it real! Speak their language when mentioning deals or promotions and use creative that reflects the current trends.

Pacsun does a great job of creating posts and ads that have an authentic and familiar feel to them:

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It’s your time to #BeReal and show Gen Z your authentic and true brand.