The social media app BeReal topped Apple App Store charts this summer and currently sits at No. 2 on the chart, drawing in crowds with its once-a-day posting format.
Although the app has been around since the end of 2019, it didn’t gain the majority of its following until over two years later. After reaching 12.8 million downloads in the United States during July 2022, BeReal conquered the number one spot in Social Networking on the Apple App Store.
According to a data analysis by Vincent Zhou, BeReal’s reach is wide; users have joined from all over the world, with people from the United States, France and the United Kingdom making up for the majority of users. Smartphone users of all ages joined the BeReal community, though the majority of users in the United States fall under the Generation Z and Millennial age groups, according to Zhou.
The app sends a notification daily to all users at a time unknown to the public beforehand. The notification prompts all users to post two photos simultaneously: a photo of themselves using the front-facing camera and another using the rear-facing camera to show what they are doing.
After the notification is sent out, users have two minutes to take and post their photo. They can still post after this two minute window, but friends who view the photos will see that they posted “late.” Users are able to interact with one another by leaving comments on each other’s posts or reacting with selfies — called “realmojis” in the app — of their own.
Some students say this format creates an optimal space to keep contact with friends and family. Bekah Dixon, a BYU student and BeReal user, said she likes the ability that BeReal gives her to keep tabs on what her friends are doing.
“One of my friends who lives far away suggested we use it so we can see more of each other,” Dixon said.
BeReal claims to keep things more realistic than other social media, saying it is “not another social media platform” and encouraging genuine interactions between users.
Users like BYU student Rebecca Jeromimo agree with this claim. After seeing her friends post about BeReal on Instagram, Jeromimo decided to see what all the fuss was about. After using the app, Jeromimo felt that BeReal allows users to be more genuine in the content they post.
“I think one of the main differences about BeReal is that it doesn’t have filters,” Jeronimo said.
Dixon agreed that BeReal differs from other social media apps in purpose and experience.
“I think it feels different,” Dixon said. “I feel no pressure to wait to post when I’m doing something interesting and I don’t just sit and scroll. I look through only once or twice to respond to what my friends are doing.”
Because of BeReal’s unique posting format, some users view the platform as a safe space to post and feel more inclined to share parts of their lives that may seem relatively mundane or unimportant. Dixon said the app has given her helpful insight as to how her friends are doing. For example, if she sees that a friend may not have left their room in a while, she feels encouraged to check in with them.
“It’s nice, because they wouldn’t post that anywhere else,” Dixon said.
BYU student Emily Coonce, who downloaded BeReal this summer to keep in touch with friends, said she feels that BeReal still has a similar structure to other social media platforms.
“I see a difference in the format and the way you post, but to me it’s really kind of still just social media,” Coonce said. “You can still pose where you want, retake it however many times you want, and you can post late — it doesn’t really have to be what you’re actually doing at that moment.”
The number of daily BeReal users has continued to increase at a rapid pace, reaching 10 million daily users as of August.