Sandrine, a 23-year-old Breton girl, is walking down the street to join friends at the bar when an alert directs her gaze to her smartphone. Panic on board. A free application, BeReal. (Editor’s note, be true), give her two minutes to take a photo of where she is. When taking this snapshot, his device then takes a photo of the view but also in selfie mode. Surprise effect guaranteed the first time, when you don’t expect it. She is then posted to her account where only her friends can see her.
“It takes very little time in the end, less than other social networks. My close friends know where I am, with these teleworking periods it’s great. We send a piece of life in fact, ”says Sandrine. “It’s not bad because you can receive photos of people you see or with whom you rarely interact”, appreciates Manu, the friend of Sandrine, who initiated it two months ago.
At work, on vacation, in class … For weeks, more and more young people aged 20 to 30 have responded to the fun and random “stress” set up by BeReal. Since the deconfinement and the return of social meetings, it has even experienced exponential success with 10,000 downloads per day at the beginning of July, claiming more than 400,000 daily users.
“It is above all this figure of the number of people who connect each day that we look at. It is not very far from the number of downloads, which means that the concept pleases ”, welcomes Alexis Barreyat, the creator. In January, when BeReal really unveiled itself after a year of testing to resolve technical issues, it only had 10,000 users.
“No judgments, only authentic moments”
BeReal. targets one million users by the end of the year. And while the market already seems well occupied by the giants TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook or Instagram, it manages to differentiate itself. It was also after being disgusted with the latter, Instagram, that the idea of BeReal came up. to Alexis, 25 years old. Originally from Montélimar (Drôme), he joined Xavier Niel’s digital school 42 for the first promotion in the summer of 2013 without having validated a baccalaureate.
Three years later, this extreme sports fan was hired in Germany, at Go Pro, the American manufacturer of action cameras. By filming great international sportsmen around the world, the young man frequents “influencers” on Instagram, young people who have become stars by telling their lives and followed by millions of people. “The difference between the image they show on camera and off camera is incredible. They spend hours on their smartphones, shout out… I developed a certain antipathy for influencers, ”recalls Alexis.
Eager to stay in touch with his friends, he nevertheless wishes to leave “the supermarket and the excess of Instagram”. The young man then created Be Real. His idea: to encourage users to share moments when they do not expect it. “Authentic moments, without judgments,” repeats the developer. Indeed, still to counter global social networks, you will not see a like on BeReal. Users can only react with smileys or even photos of themselves. With each new photo, every 24 hours, the previous one is automatically overwritten. “I didn’t want a photo to be judged on the basis of the number of reactions,” explains the creator.
Except that to see the photos of your friends, you have to send even one photo per day. “It does not matter if we miss the two-minute notification, we can send a photo later,” says Morgane, nurse in Paris. There too, there is no question of preparing for his “Late” photo: users can know how many times their friend has taken it again to photograph himself.
So far, BeReal. didn’t do an ounce of publicity or marketing. Word of mouth does it all, with each new user promoting by enticing new friends to sign up. And it works. “For two months, I have seen a lot of friends arrive. It’s entertaining and it changes from other social networks, it’s unfiltered. We don’t think for two weeks before taking our photo, ”considers Mathilde, a 21-year-old law student, seduced by the incentive effect.
But BeReal. does not only benefit from the novelty effect. “At least, we only spend five minutes a day there and we see interesting or funny things with our friends”, appreciates Étienne, a young 23-year-old from Strasbourg. “I found out that a friend had broken a tooth. Others even respond in the shower or in the process of making their bed, ”smiles Joséphine, the 22-year-old Basque who has seen BeReal. invade the Ecole des Mines de Nancy.
“It takes over from Snapchat (the favorite app for teens) where the photos, also ephemeral, were chosen moments. It’s better than Instagram where we follow 500 people, where some do not post anything and we can spend too much time there ”, regrets Sandrine, who only added about fifteen friends on BeReal ., like many users.
“In addition to young people, there are also parents who take the opportunity to talk with their children, whom they do not have on the phone daily,” says the creator. But this growing success also obliges BeReal. to develop to fight against small “bugs” before attacking the international market in six months. For this, it has just launched the recruitment of 26 employees after a first fundraising. “The app will remain free,” promises Alexis, who wants to remain a secret about her baby’s economic model.