How the BeReal photo sharing app keeps it simple

A simple photo-sharing app has overtaken Instagram, YouTube and TikTok to become the most downloaded free app on the Apple Store.

Amassing over 2.93 million daily users in just two years, BeReal forgoes all the trimmings you might expect from a conventional social media app.

Unlike its rivals, BeReal has no followers, likes, hashtags or filters – and, interestingly, no influencers in sight.

No frills – just photos.

As the name suggests, the app aims to create a truly “authentic” social media environment for its users.

So how did a shockingly simple social media app (with barely any features) take over the App Store?

keep it simple

BeReal succeeds in its simplicity and minimalism, with little room to overwhelm its users.

Consider Instagram, for example. With IGTV stream posts, stories, reels, and videos, it can be difficult for users to keep up to date with all the latest features and how to use them.

BeReal forgoes all the trimmings and flourishes, and keeps it simple.

The app sends a notification to its users once a day asking them to take a picture of what they are doing.

“It’s time to get real!” the app’s daily prompt reads – a phrase that has quickly become an online meme.

The fun part? This notification can arrive at any time of the day, which means users can hardly plan when to pose and pout for their next selfies.

Be real

The pressure is there! Users are invited to post their BeReals of the day.

To make the experience even more intriguing, the app takes a photo from the user’s selfie camera and outdoor camera.

Plus, if you’re tired of extreme retouching or glamorous lighting, BeReal offers a level playing field.

There’s no chance for users to do a quick Photoshop or even hold a light ring (unless you want it to appear on the other side of the camera).

You have no choice but to, well, BeReal.

If you’re worried about who might see your photos, BeReal is cozy and comfortable in that it’s extremely private (for a social media app, that is).

Users’ BeReals are only visible to their friends unless they also choose to share them on the discovery page.

But there’s a little catch: before seeing any of their friends’ BeReals, users have to post their own BeReal.

As for what you can expect once you join the app? Prepare for plenty of food shots, scenic views, celebrity encounters, laptop screens, and, occasionally, the unexpected.

slow burner

Although BeReal is flying high at the top of the charts these days, it’s been a while in coming.

French entrepreneurs Alexis Barreyat and Kévin Perreau co-founded the app in 2020.

After two admittedly difficult years, BeReal has exploded in popularity, growing from 10,000 daily active users in January 2021 to 2.93 million daily active users in April 2021.

In a LinkedIn post from 2020, Barreyat said he was motivated to create BeReal after becoming “tired and bored with all the bulls – on social media”.

“Stoked to finally launch BeReal, the first out of control photo sharing app,” he wrote.

”After being tired and annoyed by all the bulls – on social media, I decided to throw my own.”

But with popularity inevitably come admirers – and imitators.

Instagram has become a somewhat notorious borrower of social media features.

It was the first social media platform to not-so-subtly “borrow” Snapchat’s hugely popular “Stories” concept in 2016, after Facebook failed to buy the app.

More recently, in light of TikTok’s massive popularity, Instagram has introduced “Reels”, which have several similarities to TikTok videos.

Instagram also briefly tested a new TikTok-esque format, which it recently decided to cancel following criticism from some of its biggest stars and influencers.

BeReal has become the latest app to be on Instagram’s radar – its eerily similar “Dual” feature arrived on the app last week.

Time will tell if BeReal is able to maintain its momentum. Or, if like Snapchat, Instagram will leave the platform in the dust.

This article was first published by The new daily.

Jack C. Nugent