The rise and fall of BeReal: Is the anti-Instagram app still relevant?

Posted by Dina Zubi in Comment

7 months ago

For a while, BeReal was at the tip of every social media enthusiast’s tongue. The dual camera image sharing app prompts users to take a candid image daily, which is only shared with friends who are also posting. The app was meant to be a contrast to overly edited and filtered content on other platforms, but the hype already seems to have faded.

According to Google Trends, the searches for BeReal started increasing in early 2022 and peaked in September of the same year. That month the app was downloaded 14.7 million times. TikTokers were sharing screen recordings of their BeReals from skydiving, North Korea and celebrity encounters. In July 2022, it was the most downloaded app in Apple’s App Store in the US and everyone from Harry Styles to US president Joe Biden seemed to be in on the fun.

But then it all seemed to come to a halt. The app went from 73.5 million monthly active users in August 2022 to 47.8 million in February 2023. Around 10 million of these use BeReal daily. The amount of Google searches has now gone down to less than half of what it was at its peak.

However, BeReal is not giving up that easily. As of 19 April, users can integrate Spotify to show their friends what they are listening to as the image was taken. Spotify wrote: “Combining audio from Spotify with BeReal adds another layer of authentic personalization and connection to your BeReal.” The app has not yet sought money from its users, as all aspects of the platform are free and there are no ads – all its funding has been from investors so far.

Early adopter brands also jumped on the BeReal bandwagon, posting behind-the-scenes content of new launches, snippets from company headquarters and exclusive discount codes. While many brands have stopped posting, some are still active. Take Caudalie for instance, which recently posted a picture of the construction of its new headquarters for 2025. Kiehl’s, Chipotle and e.l.f. Cosmetics also regularly post images from events, brand meetings and new product previews.

As BeReal was gaining popularity, other social media platforms were quick to announce similar functions. Snapchat launched a dual camera feature in April 2022 and Instagram followed suit. Meta also revealed it is prototyping “Candid Stories” on Instagram and Facebook, where users will get a dual camera photo prompt each day and only users who post will see each other’s images. The social media heavyweights were never going to let a newcomer steal its users without putting up a fight.

Did the novelty of BeReal wear out or was it other platforms’ introductions of similar functions that made the app’s popularity falter? It is also possible users will become more active again in the summer months as more people attend events, travel and have more interesting images to share – let’s face it, daily photos at work isn’t the most captivating content – but at this point it looks like an uphill battle.

By Dina Zubi, CORQ news and features writer.