BeReal, a social media app making waves among Gen Z, is all about being authentic on social media. There are no photo filters or edits, videos, influencers, ads, etc., which has given the platform the nickname: “anti-Instagram.” BeReal is also capturing the attention of many brands who are experimenting with new ways to market their products to Gen Z. 

Here’s how the app works: BeReal notifies its users – ⚠️Time to BeReal ⚠️– at a random time every day to share a photo in under two minutes, using their front and back-facing cameras. If photos are shared after two minutes, the post is marked with a late label to encourage people to “be real.” There are no likes or comments, just in the moment, unedited photos of people.

With BeReal leading the way toward an authentic social media experience, how do people like the app? Do people find it to be “real” social media? And do people think other social media platforms are authentic? CivicScience has the answers. 

Some are aware of BeReal, but there’s growth potential. 

In a CivicScience survey of 3,000+ respondents, nearly 20% of U.S. adults are familiar with BeReal, but only a small percentage have used it (4%). 

This shows that BeReal has the potential to grow its audience base, especially with overall social media usage being up among the general population. 

More than a quarter of the Gen Pop spends 2+ hours daily on social media (+4 pp total from January) while the percentage of those who don’t use any social media has fallen to 20% (-2pp from January).

A look at age shows that not only do younger Americans use BeReal, but they are also the most likely to enjoy the app. Roughly 40% of adults aged 18-24 have used the app, with 19% saying they liked it. Those aged 25-34 are almost equally likely to use / intend to use the app as Gen Z, but they’re less likely to like it (12%).

Additionally, women are more likely to use / intend to use the app than men (40% | 29%).

Do people think BeReal and other social media platforms are ‘authentic’?

The survey data show that BeReal is hitting the authenticity mark for some of its users, in terms of creating a genuine social media experience. More than a third of respondents who have used BeReal say they agree that “BeReal is an authentic social media app.” On the other end, 29% of users disagree with the statement. 

As other social media platforms give users the freedom to edit their photos and decide which parts of their lives to share, CivicScience looked at the ‘authenticity’ of social media as a whole. The data show that 54% of Americans with social media say their social media posts do ‘not at all’ accurately reflect their day-to-day lives. 

When asked about the types of photos they share most often, more than 4-in-10 social media users said they share pictures of themselves with family and/or friends, with vacation photos coming in second at 27%. And roughly 1-in-10 said they post pictures of their day-to-day activities. 

Nearly half of social media users say they have never shared a photo of themselves on social media where they didn’t like the way they look. Additionally, one-fifth of adults who use social media have asked others to delete a tagged image because they didn’t like how they looked, with another 17% saying they haven’t but wanted to.

Daily social media usage and emotional well-being

With social media usage up among the Gen Pop, we wanted to check in on how daily use corresponds with the emotional states of users, such as happiness, sadness, and stress. Among current social media users, the data show that those who spend 4+ hours on social media per day are the most likely to report feelings of stress and sadness. On the other hand, those who spend 1-2 hours on social media report the highest level of happiness, which may be the sweet spot when it comes to social media use.

As BeReal grows brand awareness and its audience, we may start to see other social media platforms shift their objectives to create a more “real” social media experience. CivicScience will continue to monitor how people use BeReal and other social media platforms.