Not long ago, TikTok was the only emerging platform that had companies like Meta, Twitter and YouTube shaking in their Silicon Valley boots, so much so that both Instagram and YouTube “adopted” the short-form video scroll.
But while TikTok remains at the top of its game with the most popular account with over 150 million followers, it’s now the one copying the novelty.
This novelty in question is BeReal, which was launched in 2020, but quickly grew in popularity in 2022.
The app’s unique concept allows all its users in a single time zone to simultaneously upload photos of what they’re doing at the time they’re notified. It lets you take pictures of what’s in front of you as well as a selfie so your friends can get a detailed view, but you only have a couple of minutes to do it before your post is labeled “late.”
Today, BeReal is #1 in at least nine markets and among the top five iPhone apps in about 40 countries. It surpassed Instagram in weekly downloads in July and was the world’s most downloaded iOS app in August with 11 million downloads, when it also surpassed TikTok, according to the Washington Post.
In the United States, its biggest market today, it has had more than 56 million downloads in 2022 alone.
Teen Dirtbags Rule
BeReal rose to fame on the back of “teenage dirtbag” and then took it further.
The nostalgic trend started on TikTok, where influencers and celebrities posted images from their rebellious youth years, an indicator of a growing rejection of the polished aesthetic that has prevailed online, especially on Instagram, over the last decade
Gen Zers bucked the trend by putting the lens on the present, showcasing a less pristine and more edgy lifestyle, often portrayed in an Instagram gallery post of blurry afternoon adventures dressed in baggy jeans and sneakers dirty
Now, BeReal has taken it a step further, forcing its users to not varnish now by sending a candid snapshot with no editing allowed.
BeReal’s growing popularity has forced what used to be disruptive platforms into a copycat role.
TikTok recently announced TikTok Now, a standalone app that sends a notification asking users to upload a snapshot of their current activity in video or photo format, including a self-facing camera shot. ‘outdoor.
It looks a lot like deja vu for BeReal fans.
Another important aspect is BeReal’s dual camera feature that has caught the eye of Instagram, which subsequently rolled it out globally in August.
Although it has yet to pick up the spontaneous posting feature, it may not be far off. Last month, Tech Crunch reported that Instagram was testing “IG Candid Challenges.”
The move can be expected from Instagram given its history; added “stories” in 2014 after Snapchat’s missing photos rose in popularity. More recently, Instagram was the first major platform to copy TikTok’s short video format as reels, followed shortly by YouTube shorts.
Snapchat is also one to watch, especially since the company is now in a “code red” growth race according to a Business Insider report. The platform has already introduced a dual camera and could easily add a snap post in the near future.
Other major platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have previously copied their competitors with their own (in some cases temporary) versions of stories, live video and audio features, meaning that any attempt to replicate aspects of BeReal is not particularly difficult for users. older players.
And this is where the danger finally comes for this newcomer. It’s quite a feat to become a threat to TikTok, and in doing so, BeReal has already surpassed the successes of viral apps Houseparty and Clubhouse, which quickly fell apart after a brief time in the spotlight during the pandemic
But for it to have power, it now has to compete with the financial support of the biggest players in the game.
“Ironically, what makes it popular now may be its downfall. All social media platforms have to make money eventually, and often make money from their users, by selling ads,” says Chris Stokel-Walker, journalist and author of TikTok Boom: China’s Dynamite App and Social Media Superpower Race.
“While some companies have set up BeReal profiles, the uncontrollable nature of the app means that most do it just to win praise. It’s hard to see companies, needed to bolster BeReal’s results, joining en masse application”.
Why do other platforms feel so threatened?
BeReal has been praised by Gen Z fans and social trends experts for its drive to live in the here and now and for presenting an unfiltered perspective rather than the ultra-filtered lifestyle typically found on Instagram.
“BeReal taps into the trend of authentic, unpolished social media presences,” says Stokel-Walker..
“You’re asked to try and post whatever you see, wherever you are. It’s a world away from the carefully crafted images that populate Instagram and other apps.”
“BeReal lets you be more spontaneous online and provides a realistic view of your friends’ lives,” said Gabby Pathmanathan, a Gen Z student from the UK.
“I really like it because it removes the pressure to be perfect on social media and lets you live in the moment.”
Sign up for the Features of Fortune email list so you don’t miss our top features, exclusive interviews and research.