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What Is BeReal? The Unfiltered App That’s the Anti-Instagram

Ready to see what your friends are really up to? BeReal offers an unfiltered peek at the daily lives of your nearest and dearest.

Liz Stanton July 21, 2022

You’ve mastered Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You’re finally ready to tackle TikTok. But don’t get too comfortable — a hot new social media app has entered the villa. Gen Z is raving about it, but what is BeReal?

Unlike its alternatives, BeReal offers an unfiltered, unplanned social experience. In some ways, the app combines the freedom of Instagram’s early days (minus the Valencia filter) and TikTok’s candid, anything-goes vibe.

We’ll take you through everything you need to know about BeReal, including what it is, how it works and why it’s different.

Bonus: Read the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

What is BeReal?

BeReal is a photo-sharing app that prompts users to post one unfiltered photo per day.

BeReal launched in late 2019, but its popularity started to explode in mid-2022. It’s currently the top social networking app on the App Store and has been installed roughly 29.5 million times.

If you’re curious — like we are — about how to use BeReal for business, you should watch this video:

How does BeReal work?

The BeReal app sends a push notification — ⚠️ Time to BeReal. ⚠️ — to all users at a random time each day. Users in the same time zone get the alert simultaneously. They then have two minutes to take a photo and share it with their followers.

And it’s not really just one photo, either. BeReal uses your front and back cameras to snap a selfie along with whatever you’re doing, at the same time. So if you’ve gotten used to the beauty filter, be prepared: The app doesn’t have any photo editing features.

The two-minute countdown means no planning, no primping, and no content-batching. You just share whatever you’re doing when the notification comes in — which may be 11 AM one day and 4 PM the next.

You can retake your photos within the two-minute window, but your followers will know if (and how many times) you do. If you miss the deadline, you can still post, but your BeReal gets tagged with “posted late.”

Once you’ve posted your BeReal, you’ll be able to browse your friends’ photos and see what they’re up to. Unlike every other social platform, there’s no option to simply like other photos — if you want to engage with a post, you have to take a reaction selfie or write a comment

And if you’re a lurker, you’re out of luck. You can still use the app, but you won’t be able to see any of your friends’ photos without posting your own.

BeReal doesn't let you view photos without posting

How to get started on BeReal

Ready to take the plunge? Follow our simple tutorial to get started on the app.

1. Create an account
BeReal is available for both Android and iOS users, so first, download the app. To create an account, you’ll have to enter your phone number, full name, birthday, and username.

2. Connect with your friends
Once you’ve created an account and logged in, you can sync your contacts to find friends on the app.

BeReal contact syncing

3. Take your first BeReal
BeReal will prompt you to take a picture right after you create an account. Click on the notification and take your first photo within two minutes.

Taking a BeReal with countdown

4. Add a caption and share your photo
After you add a caption, you can choose whether you want to share your photo with everyone or friends only. Click Send to post!

Adding a caption to BeReal

5. Start exploring
Once you’ve shared your first BeReal, you can browse other photos in the Discovery section. You can react to posts with selfies using the emoji in the bottom left.

BeReal reaction emoji [realmoji]

What’s the appeal of BeReal?

BeReal’s content may seem mundane, but that’s kind of the point. So far, it’s not for influencers or advertisers — users are on the app to connect with friends.

In fact, BeReal’s terms and conditions explicitly prohibit using the app for advertising or commercial purposes.

Of course, novelty is definitely part of the appeal (remember Peach? RIP). But the app’s approach feels like a fresh take on the overly curated content that dominates most social networks.

Frequently asked questions about BeReal

Can you delete a BeReal?

Deleting your BeReal is easy. Go to the My Friends tab and tap the three dots at the bottom right of your BeReal. Then, tap Options and select Delete my BeReal. Select why you want to delete your BeReal, then tap Yes, I’m sure to confirm.

How does BeReal make money?

BeReal doesn’t run ads, offer subscriptions, or sell in-app upgrades (yet), so the app is primarily funded by investors. This may change in the future as BeReal’s user base continues to grow.

What time is BeReal today?

Nice try! We don’t know what time BeReal is today (and neither does anyone else outside the app). Notifications go out during “normal waking hours” in your time zone, so today’s BeReal notification could come anytime from 7 AM to 12 AM.

How do you turn off location on BeReal?

If you’ve allowed the app to access your location, BeReal automatically shares that information when you post. Luckily, it’s easy to turn off.

On iPhone: After you take your BeReal (but before you post it), tap your location info at the bottom of the post preview. Tap Location off to disable location-sharing, then tap Send to post your BeReal.

On Android: After you take your BeReal, tap Send. Under Other options, tap Share my position to clear the checkbox and disable location-sharing. Tap Send to post your BeReal.

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By Liz Stanton

Liz Stanton is an Inbound Marketing Strategist and associate editor of the Hootsuite blog. After years of freelance writing, she transitioned to a full-time marketing career in 2018. Before joining Hootsuite in 2022, Liz worked as a brand strategist, content editor, and digital campaign manager. She specialized in helping digital marketing agencies, B2C businesses, and SaaS startups build their brands and improve conversions through content marketing and social media.

Read more by Liz Stanton

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