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Marketers reconsider BeReal as it launches its first global brand marketing campaign

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Several months ago, BeReal began losing steam with users, marketers and creators. But the young-demo skewing, photo-sharing social media app hopes to sling itself back in the cultural zeitgeist with its first ever global brand marketing campaign.

BeReal is using a notable strategy — relying on other social media channels for engagement. The campaign will call on users to submit their BeReal posting to a competition via Instagram or X (formerly Twitter) for a chance at a paid vacation and opportunity to be the face of BeReal’s first billboard — a takeover of Times Square.

It’s an organic push to boost brand awareness among non-BeReal users and retain the attention of current BeReal users, according to Julian Hislop, head of field marketing at BeReal. He added that the social media platform prioritized product development and infrastructure during its season of growth.

“But now we’re in a really comfortable position. We finally got to a point whereby the app is working really well,” he said. “We started thinking about new features that we’re going to be releasing and so we thought, ‘OK, now’s a great time whereby we can finally start running really creative, fun, marketing campaigns.’”

It’s unclear how much BeReal has budgeted for marketing and advertising campaigns as Hislop declined to offer details. Throughout the month, BeReal will experiment with viral stunts to amplify its campaign before finishing out with its full out-of-home advertising campaign in Times Square, Hislop said. 

BeReal became a glimmer in marketer’s eyes late last year as the industry grappled with then-Twitter’s hostile takeover and Meta’s unhappy investors, leaving many looking for the next social media heavyweight. Although the app launched without ad units, it offered marketers like Chipotle, e.l.f Cosmetics and Shake Shack a chance to connect with its growing user base and embed themselves in yet another digital community.

Since the beginning of this year, the BeReal hype seems to have died down. Marketers say client interest has dissipated. The platform itself touts 25 million daily active users. But looking at the numbers from a monthly active user perspective rather than a daily active user perspective, according to the Business of Apps, BeReal’s monthly active users fell from 73.5 million in August 2022 to 33.3 million this March.

“At this point, it seems like we’re in a holding period with clients waiting to see if BeReal is a passing trend or if the platform is capable of evolving to recapture its earlier audience and grow beyond that initial hype,” Monica Chun, chief client officer and president of Brand Advisory at Acceleration Community of Companies, a community of media, marketing, and communications companies, said in an email. 

BeReal has been notoriously quiet, not offering public interviews or commentary. Thus, leaving news outlets to speculate about upcoming product features and ad opportunities. The app declined interviews, though stories about the platform were published in The New York Times, Rolling Stone and Digiday. Per Hislop, the app has spent the last year stabilizing the product and internalizing user feedback around marketing campaign ideas and interest in brand presences on BeReal. 

“Our only real focus is on people and close friends and close friend relationships,” he said, echoing a company sentiment in its press release about the app’s usage statistics and revenue figures. “We’re still very happy to invite brands to try and disrupt that landscape. But it’s not a priority for us right now.”

Advertisers aren’t worried about the timeline.

“Our job as marketers is to connect brands to audiences. So even though it wasn’t a welcoming space for brands at the beginning, definitely won’t detour us,” said Grace Hoy, director of social strategy at VMLY&R. “We’ll revisit those conversations and reopen the door.” The agency isn’t currently using BeReal for any clients, who are more interested in Meta’s Threads at the moment, per Hoy.

Marketers aim to be where culture is happening, and if BeReal lands itself back in the zeitgeist, marketers won’t be far behind, moving to roll out organic plays to get in front of online communities and BeReal’s young user base. However, there’s skepticism about how long the app will maintain buzz.

“If they become part of the culture again, even if it’s very small, especially, who their market is, we’re going to see marketers and advertisers jump on that wave,” said Micah Freedman, vp of growth at Ruckus digital agency. “The skeptic in me is saying that it probably will end up a little more than one foot in the grave. We’ll see if the brand campaign will be the shot they need.”

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