As the world becomes more and more connected, each successive generation seems to get more and more technologically savvy. Gen Z, those born between 1997 and 2012, is no exception. They spend a lot of time every day on their phones, tablets, or laptops; they know their way around social media better than any other generation, and they are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to connect with brands. Recently we've seen the app BeReal skyrocket to success among Gen Z. So what does this mean for higher education marketers?
What is BeReal?
BeReal is a popular application used by Gen Z. This French social app was first released in 2020 but did not gain popularity until early 2022. The app sends a notification every day at different times, prompting users to share a photo of themselves and of their current surroundings. You must take the photos within a 2-minute time frame in order to see the photos of your friends. It is a social media platform that promotes authenticity where users can share what they are doing during the day with their friends and followers without feeling the pressures of other social media platforms to edit their photos or show off a polished life like you would typically see on platforms like Instagram.
How was BeReal born?
Developed in 2020, BeReal is the master child of Alexis Barreyat and Kévin Perreau, and the real intent was to help users connect with their friends without being limited by the constraints of followers or filters. You get to showcase the real you to your friends and family, and they get a quick snapshot of what you are up to in real-time.
Since the beginning of 2022, BeReal has seen exponential growth. Although it was first released in 2020, BeReal has seen 74.5% of its total downloads occur during 2022. The monthly users have gone up 315% from January to April of 2022. Since it launched, it has been downloaded 43.3 million times, with over 10 million daily active users on the app.
It still has some catching up to do with other popular social media platforms that have been around much longer. Instagram, as an example, has been reported to have 3.8 billion downloads, with TikTok at around 3 billion downloads.
Advertising on BeReal
Currently, unlike other social media platforms, BeReal does not have advertising in the traditional sense. In a world where people see advertisements every few minutes while on social media, this may be one of the reasons Gen Z finds the BeReal app so enticing. But this can make introducing advertisements later on a challenge since the app promotes authenticity and a way to connect with friends and family in a real way.
BeReal's monetization strategy will be one we keep an eye out for, and it will be interesting to see how they handle this unique challenge. Our prediction is that more brands will start to figure out creative ways to engage potential customers in a format that is unique to them. For example, the large fast-food chain, Chipotle.
Chipotle Case Study
Chipotle is all about being unfiltered and candid, which coincides with the very concept of BeReal, and that’s why this American fast-food chain jumped on the bandwagon and quickly turned heads.
But how did they manage to do it? Simple, they did what every user of BeReal does. Posted unfiltered, real snaps of their food, the vibe their restaurant has, and everything connected to Chipotle. They also sneaked in a reusable promo code that allows the first 100 users to get a free entrée while they order or visit chipotle.
The simple strategy was surely well planned but, at the same time, completely unfiltered and as authentic as Chipotle can get. That’s why the brand was able to ace the challenge and be the first of many brands to enter BeReal.
Chipotle’s entry into BeReal and how they were able to grab attention has prompted many other companies to join the space and take the opportunity. And that’s also why higher education institutions should consider this opportunity.
Usually, when a new social media app trends, higher educational institutions are slower to join the new space. The implications? The space gets so saturated that they have to put in a lot of effort to get traction and be seen.
BeReal has opened up yet another raw, fresh opportunity that universities and colleges should use, considering the app's initial users were college students.
Potential Higher Education Uses and/or Implications
You are probably familiar with the issue that anytime a new social media platform emerges and gains popularity, higher education institutions are typically slower to adopt it into their social media marketing plan. But how can we combat this?
Staying up to date with social media trends and apps can be such a useful tool to get ahead of competitors. Plus, BeReal currently does not have any higher education institutions on the app. We believe there is a huge opportunity for higher education institutions to jump on the app and start using it as a tool to connect with current and future students. A few ideas that we could see being done in the future would be paid advertising in the form of BeReal posts, current campus events, and other student engagements, showing the campus and institution benefits in a fun and creative way. Whether that be BeReals from different student majors, BeReals at sporting events, BeReals of campus events, and basically any organic content that engages potential students and connects them to your campus.
What We Recommend
The reason why the marketing team should start becoming familiar with BeReal is to set the team up for success if and when the app takes off, and it becomes a social media platform you should invest time into. It'll make it a lot easier and stress-free when the team can apply their knowledge on how to use the app, come up with ideas on how to advertise using the app for the institution, and pitch the idea of using the app to the leadership team. It'll be a great way to set yourself apart and get ahead of other higher education institutions!