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What TikTok’s BeReal feature means for marketers

Personally I’m already over BeReal. It grabbed my interest for about a month but honestly I just didn’t have the energy to scroll through dozens of pictures of my friends faces lit by laptop bluelight mirrored by a picture of said laptop at different times each weekday. 

My opinion, nonetheless, is neither here nor there. The French-founded app today boasts more than 10 million daily active users, up from 10,000 daily users just a year ago, and has been downloaded over 43 million times. Almost 41 million of those instals occurred this year, according to Apptopia findings, with the U.S. contributing 40% of new users. Other top markets include the U.K. and France. At the time of publication, BeReal was ranked the No. 1 free app in the iOS App Store, four spots ahead of TikTok. 

However, on the 15 of September, our favourite and arguably most stressful short form content platform announced its newest offering, TikTok Now, which looks a lot like BeReal. The feature utilises a similar dual-camera function to the one BeReal is known for, challenging users to post a 10-second video or a picture of themselves spontaneously each day. Similar to BeReal’s push notification — “It’s Time to BeReal” — users receive a message reading “Time to Now” on TikTok. 

This is only being offered as a built-in feature in the U.S., BeReal’s largest market. Some hypotheses the experiment could represent TikTok vying to win over markets where BeReal hasn’t yet gained a foothold. Given TikTok’s size and favour with Gen Z, it could also help marketers gauge whether the candid BeReal format is something that holds appeal on a larger scale. 

“The level of success that TikTok sees by using BeReal’s strategy will help dictate whether this is just a trend for a certain audience that loves to engage and share this way — or whether there is a broader appetite for this type of content,” said Rob Jewell, chief growth officer at Power Digital. 

So why could BeReal be good for brands? Interest in a more candid format ties into demand from consumers (especially Gen Z consumers) for authenticity, a value that has dominated the way brands try to shape their social media strategy. Brands using BeReal could feel like a breath of fresh air for consumers feeling bogged down by edited and scripted content. The allure of BeReal is the spontaneity and unfiltered quality followers get to experience. With so many platforms that create opportunities for polished editing, it could be refreshing to get a “real” look at a brand and the personalities behind them.

An example of a brand using BeReal could be Chipotle. One of the first major brands to activate on the platform, shared reusable promo codes in its posts for a week that were redeemed in less than a minute. Wishu has already covered the fantastic example of beauty brand E.l.f. also took to the platform to give users exclusive access to behind-the-scenes content, like sneak peeks of product drops. 

Chipotle and E.l.f. both command massive followings on TikTok and represent the types of brands that could, in theory, experiment with TikTok Now. In the same way that Instagram Stories once grabbed attention away from its Snapchat progenitor, TikTok Now might eventually hurt the odds of other big brands prioritising BeReal, especially since TikTok has a more established ad infrastructure and sales relationships. 

Currently ad-free, BeReal is reportedly exploring subscription models that include in-app purchases in place of an ad-supported model, though the latter may still be in the cards. If ads are to come in the future, it would likely be a slow rollout, selling manually to larger brands and agencies before a self-service option is available, Jewell said.

TikTok meanwhile already has a booming ads business and recently revamped its social commerce offering ahead of the holidays. Lacking the framework and resources to offer such features could prove to be a disadvantage for BeReal if it looks to further monetise in the near future.

Though TikTok’s move to copy BeReal is noteworthy, it’s not the only platform paying attention to the newcomer. In August, Snapchat rolled out its own dual-camera feature with enhanced tools, including the ability to pick multiple different layout options and add lenses, music and stickers to posts. Instagram is also rumoured to be crafting something similar, called IG Candid Challenges, that prompts users to post within a two-minute window. 

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