New social-media apps are finding success in prioritizing intimacy over attention.
A social-media app called BeReal hit the No. 1 spot in the Apple app store in July, according to the tech journalism website Business of Apps. BeReal, first created in 2020, rose in popularity this summer with more than 20 million new downloads. It is one of several new apps rising up to offer an alternative to major social-media networks.
“As the scale of Instagram and TikTok becomes increasingly impersonal, a new generation of social-media companies including BeReal, Locket Widget, Yubo, and Poparazzi have spotted an opportunity to prioritize intimacy over infamy,” says The Guardian.
Why it’s news
The spike in popularity comes as social-media influencers like Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian criticize apps like Instagram for implementing new video features in an effort to compete directly with TikTok.
The content-driven and highly competitive nature of large social-media apps have led millions of young social media users to seek smaller and more intimate networks. “The ruthless dynamics of the attention economy mean that the platforms most popular with young people today, Instagram and TikTok, double as global arenas to launch influencer careers. Content—not connection—is king,” writes The Guardian.
This has opened up fresh opportunities for smaller app developers to find an audience.
BeReal doesn’t advertise itself as an alternative to larger platforms—but just as a platform for chatting with friends showing life “without filters.” It is a smaller service that limits the size and influence of its users and focuses on more direct engagement with a small circle of immediate friends. “BeReal is the simplest photo sharing app to share once a day your real life in photo with friends… BeReal won’t make you famous. If you want to become an influencer you can stay on TikTok and Instagram,” says the description in the App Store.
The early success of apps like BeReal is also creating opportunities for advertising and influencer marketing. Chipotle was one of the first major companies to use BeReal for social media promotion and it has already seen consistent engagement. “When Chipotle joined BeReal in April (one of the first major brands to do so), it shared reusable promo codes in its posts for a week. The first 100 people to use the promo would receive a free entree. Those codes were regularly redeemed in less than a minute,” says Fast Company.
“We love Instagram and TikTok [but] they’re not really competition in our space,” Poparazzi co-founder Alex Ma told The Guardian.