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RealBrands and RealPeople in BeReal

It’s pretty easy to see that opening the door to brands could be the first step in BeReal’s revenue plans.

BeReal, a social app that emphasizes authenticity, is reaching out to brands and celebrities for the first time. Starting Feb. 6, they will be able to sign up as “RealBrands” or “RealPeople,” and fans will be able to watch them share behind-the-scenes moments of their lives that they can’t share elsewhere.

BeReal was designed to make social media less staged. At different times each day, users receive a push notification that “it’s time to be real (BeReal)” and they have two minutes to post whatever they do. When the app started gaining momentum in 2022, it prioritized helping people connect with friends. BeReal is supposed to be an anti-glamor network that invites users to share (mostly) real, not “hairy” snippets of their daily lives, even if a daily “BeReal” push notification at a random time captures you washing dishes rather than doing something cool and glamorous.

Given the nature of BeReal, the RealBrand and RealPeople features may seem a bit unusual to users.

“We know what you’re thinking… How does something like this fit with BeReal’s mission?” – says the blog announcing the feature. “We believe that by showing that famous people and brands are actually people just like us – both boring and interesting at different times – we help shed some of the negativity that comes from today’s social platforms.”

The company told TechCrunch that it now has 23 million daily active users; in August, BeReal said it had 20 million, so that’s a small increase. But as the company’s growth slows, BeReal needs to figure out how to retain users. Over the past year, BeReal has introduced a number of new features, such as groups, mentions, multiple posts per day, pinned posts, and a “friends of friends” feed. According to a Pew study, 13% of American teens use the app.

But the problem with BeReal and its quest to strengthen existing friendships is that it can’t make money. That’s why Facebook*, another company that was originally motivated to connect people, has turned into an advertising business. BeReal faces the same unfortunate reality as venture-funded social platforms: at some point you’re going to have to either sell advertising or force users to buy premium features. The latter tends to be the more difficult task.

These RealBrands and RealPeople are not ads, per se. Like any other BeReal user, they will have to post on time, on demand. But it’s pretty easy to see that opening the door to brands could be the first step in BeReal’s revenue plans.