Before Instagram and YouTube “adopted” the trend of short-form video scrolling, TikTok was the only emerging platform that made Silicon Valley giants like Meta and Twitter nervous.

TikTok’s most popular account still has over 150 million followers, but the app is now the one being copied.

BeReal, the phenomenon in question, debuted in 2020 but experienced explosive growth in 2022.

The innovative idea behind the app is that everyone in the same time zone will instantly share a photo of what they’re doing when they receive a notification. You can capture both the world around you and a selfie for your friends to see your unique perspective, but you only have a few minutes to do so before your post is marked as “late.”

Currently, BeReal is the top iPhone app in at least nine markets and one of the top five apps overall in roughly 40 countries. According to the Washington Post, in July it overtook Instagram in weekly downloads, and in August it overtook TikTok to become the most downloaded IOS app in the world with 11 million downloads.

Over 56 million copies were downloaded in the United States in 2022, making it the country’s largest single market.

Teenage Dirtbags Rule

BeReal: Is It A Threat To Tiktok- Insta?

BeReal rode the wave of the “teenage dirtbag” fad to stardom, and then expanded upon it.

The trend started on TikTok, where celebrities and influencers shared throwback photos from their edgier youth, reflecting a growing backlash against the glossy aesthetic that has dominated online, especially on Instagram, for the last decade.

Gen Zers put their own spin on the trend by focusing on the here and now, showcasing a less perfect, edgier way of life, which is often depicted in a blurry late-night adventure gallery post on Instagram while wearing baggy jeans and dirty sneakers.

BeReal has now taken this a step further by requiring its users to submit an unedited, raw photo of themselves.

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Copycat Creations

Due to BeReal’s meteoric rise in popularity, the once-disruptive platforms have been reduced to playing the role of imitators.

TikTok recently announced TikTok Now, a separate app that sends a notification prompting users to upload a snapshot of their current activities in video or photo format, including a self-facing and outward-facing camera shot.

For those familiar with BeReal, this may sound very familiar.

BeReal’s dual camera feature is also noteworthy because Instagram noticed it and rolled it out worldwide in August.

It hasn’t caught on to the ability to make posts on the fly just yet, but that could change soon. In case you missed it, Tech Crunch reported last month that Instagram was beta-testing “IG Candid Challenges.”

Given Instagram’s past, this is to be expected given the rise in popularity of Snapchat’s ephemeral photos. In 2014, Instagram added “stories.” Instagram, followed by YouTube, is the most recent major platform to adopt TikTok’s short video format of reels.

According to Business Insider, Snapchat is also worth keeping an eye on because the company is in a “code red” race to expand. The platform has already implemented a dual camera, and it may soon be able to incorporate a seamless prompt for posting content on the spur of the moment.

Since Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn have already implemented similar (albeit temporary) versions of stories, live video, and audio features on their own platforms, it would not be particularly difficult for them to attempt to replicate aspects of BeReal.

And that’s where the real peril for the newcomer begins. Becoming a credible competitor to TikTok is no small feat; in doing so,The best social media ads BeReal has already surpassed the accomplishments of viral apps Houseparty and Clubhouse, which enjoyed brief periods of prominence during the pandemic but have since faded from public consciousness.

But now it must compete with the deep pockets of the industry’s heavy hitters if it is to survive.

Perhaps ironically, what is driving its current success could eventually be its undoing. Chris Stokel-Walker, journalist and author of TikTok Boom: China’s Dynamite App and the Superpower Race for Social Media, says that every social media platform needs to make money eventually and that it often does from its users, by selling ads.

Some businesses have BeReal profiles, but due to the app’s unpredictability, most are probably just doing it for the praise. Companies, which would be a boon to BeReal’s bottom line, aren’t likely to sign up in droves.

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Why Do Other Platforms Feel so Threatened?

BeReal: Is It A Threat To Tiktok- Insta?

BeReal’s message of embracing the now and presenting an unfiltered perspective, in contrast to the ultra-filtered lifestyle typically found on Instagram, has won it fans among Generation Z and social trend experts.

“BeReal capitalizes on the growing demand for raw, unfiltered online personas,” explains Stokel-Walker.

You’re encouraged to share whatever you find, wherever you are. There is no comparison to the perfectly staged photos that populate apps like Instagram.

Generation Z student Gabby Pathmanathan of the United Kingdom praised BeReal for enabling “more spontaneous online behavior” and providing a “realistic insight” into the lives of friends.

“It’s great because it frees you from trying to be perfect on social media and allows you to fully experience each moment as it happens.”

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