How business owners can be part of the “genuine” social media revolution.
“I only use BeReal now, no filters and just people having fun”. I overheard this comment from a lady in her 50’s next to me on the bus just this last week. It echoes the sentiment I’ve heard across my other social media: “add me on BeReal, it’s all I use now”.
But have you heard of BeReal yet? And why should we be taking care, as professionals, to maintain an “authentic” social media persona? This week, I dug deep into the world of social media and authenticity to come up with an answer.
What is BeReal?
“Your friends for Real. Everyday at a different time, everyone is notified simultaneously to capture and share a Photo in 2 Minutes. A new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life.”
BeReal’s elevator pitch – taken straight from their website. It was founded by French duo Alexis Barreyat and Kévin Perreau and released in 2020. BeReal is a social media platform that sends out a reminder to its users at a random time each day, asking them to post within the next two minutes a picture from their front and back cameras. This is meant to encourage more realistic and spontaneous interactions on the app.
As I write this, BeReal sits as the second most popular free app in the UK – it has seen a whopping 359% increase in usage year upon year since its release, totalling 7.67 million downloads to date. Clearly, it is doing something right. Coined as the “anti-social media”, it doesn’t allow for editing or do-overs. It has received acclaim for reflecting the mundane reality of day to day life when, for years, there has been much said about the impact of social media upon the mental health of users. Popular mainly among Gen-Z and young adults in its home country of France, 80% of users are 16-24 year olds. In such early days of its success, it is difficult to make predictions about whether this platform won’t follow a similar pattern to social media giants such as Facebook, slowly moving to encompass an older generation.
Why authentic social media should matter to business owners
The rocketing popularity of this platform – coming, anecdotally at least, to the detriment of the established platforms – tells us something vital about what social media users want to see in the digital world: ‘real’, feel good content. This is especially true for younger audiences, and if your business is aiming to capture a similar market, the growth of this app is especially important to you. Content like that encouraged by BeReal fosters deeper connections between users, giving them hitherto unusual and authentic insight into each other’s lives.
As businesses, we are usually employing social media to promote our brand, grow our audience and ultimately spread the word about our offerings. Even more so, only 40% of the people we polled across our own social media platforms have heard of or are using BeReal. This could be because of BeReal’s fatal flaw – it prohibits commercial accounts. This means that unfortunately at present, there is little scope for businesses to utilise the platform in a marketing sense – and this is precisely what BeReal intends.
Of course, there is potential for this platform to become home to a new wave of influencers and, by natural extension, influencer partnerships in the future. Platforms that shared similar ideologies at their conception, like Snapchat, eventually found a way to monetise the experience through partner advertising.
Even so, don’t think I’ve brought BeReal to your attention for no reason – it is what we can take away from BeReal’s growth to date that matters to businesses like yours. BeReal’s enviable popularity is a result of its tone and function. We can hope to replicate this across our existing social media platforms by adding in elements of casual, personal content and interaction, and begin to see some new successes.
Research from the Journal of Advertising this year attests to this. This study found that sponsored posts that evaluated products or services honestly, and that had an included element of the self (for example, the poster talked about their own feelings and opinions), performed much better than other types of posts in terms of achieving a brand’s marketing goals. These types of sponsored posts were also viewed in a much more positive light. This goes to show that there is value in your brand embracing the authentic values of BeReal in its own content.
This is not about abandoning carefully crafted content and planning in favour of unedited candidness and spontaneity. I think that considering the tone you take, and the consistency of such posts (think about it, BeReal encourages this type of interaction daily!) is a much more effective strategy. See below for some more in depth guidance.
Where to start
Big brands like Aldi and Innocent have all chosen to use their social media platforms to promote informal and non-product based content. This is a clever strategy, meant to humanise these companies and encourage viral interactions with their audience and build trust in their brand.
I see this strategy working to a degree of success for small businesses as well. If you have worked hard to become a genuine local expert in your field, say, or are family-run: part of your unique selling point is already your personality. Your social media content should help your audience get to know that personality and trust in you. Keep your tone casual and real – whilst, no, you don’t want to post anything that’s not in line with your overall brand values, you should develop content to show that you are a person – not a robot! Giving opinions and insights is not always frowned upon.
Positivity is another factor to consider. Earlier on, I spoke about how this authentic type of content is more feel-good. That’s because it shuns manufactured or over-produced social media content that is typically seen on established platforms, meaning it doesn’t showcase impossible-to-achieve aspirational lifestyles or standards for people to compare themselves against. On one hand, this was traditionally a drive behind sales, there is a lot to be said also for making your audience feel like they can identify with, and are welcome by your brand as they are now instead.
Luckily, producing this type of content is easy than you might think and requires a lot less planning than typical scheduled content. As a starting point, sharing what you get up to “on the job” – a day-to-day behind the scenes, if you like – is one way of achieving this. You might also consider posting more about your story – who you are and how you got to where you are today. More casual ways of posting: Instagram and Facebook’s “story” features, or tweets, are your best friend here – this means you can save your usual feed for more curated content if you wish. If you try to slowly drip-feed this content to your usual type of posts, you can begin to see how your audience responds to it.
So, whether you’ve jumped on the BeReal hype yet or not – there is no mistaking that “authentic” and personal content can be valuable for you and your business. If you still are not sure where to start, mmunic offers social media management services. Let’s work together to create profiles that are unique to you. Contact us now.