Mexican fast-casual chain Chipotle is among a growing number of brands joining BeReal, a new anti-filter and anti-influencer social media platform designed to promote online authenticity. Although the app doesn’t offer paid advertising options, Chipotle and others are finding unique ways to promote their brand and grab users’ attention, building on the company’s philosophy of transparency. platform.
Unfiltered and candid? It’s right down the aisle from Chipotle. That’s why the popular Mexican grill – which has a penchant for early adoption of new platforms – joined BeReal.
Without filters, edits, curation, or even likes, BeReal promises a different kind of social media experience. Every day, at a random and unknown time, all users receive the same notification asking them to take a picture of what they are doing. Users only have two minutes to open the app and take a photo – and they can only see what their friends are posting if they post within the allotted time. It’s a unique blend of Snapchat and Gen Z’s “casual Instagram” – with chance and luck in the mix.
To tap into this growing community, Chipotle shared a limited-offer, reusable promo code on its BeReal posts earlier this month. For four days, the first 100 consumers to use the code online or on the restaurant’s app got free entry. The campaign represented one of the first brand marketing activations on the new social media platform.
Originally launched in 2020 by GoPro alum Alexis Barreyat, the app didn’t gain much traction around the world until earlier this year. Following a $30 million capital funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz and Accel last year, the company invested in a paid ambassador program focused on raising awareness on college campuses. The initiative has helped to significantly increase downloads, primarily among Gen Z and college students.
Today, the platform has over 2.9 million daily active users. It has seen a 315% jump in downloads since the start of 2022, according to recent data from trend monitoring site Social Media Today.
“We see a huge opportunity to highlight our brand transparency in a fun way for our fans on BeReal,” says Tressie Lieberman, the company’s vice president of digital and offsite marketing.
Brand fit matters in a filterless world
In keeping with its commitment to prohibit filters, edits and influencer culture, BeReal does not have advertising. In the absence of paid social ads, a brand can normally turn to sponsorships and influencer marketing; but these opportunities are slim to none on BeReal. It looks like the app is trying to dissuade any explicit marketing.
But that doesn’t mean brands can’t engage and even thrive on the app. “Brands have the opportunity to add value to BeReal, but I advise them to think introspectively about what they’re trying to get out of it,” says Teresa Day, president of Planoly, a planning and marketing tool. social content programming.
She also points out that brands shouldn’t rush to get on the platform just to catch eyeballs; she advises all brands to consider whether they will be able to truly connect with target audiences on a platform such as BeReal. Not all brands will fit. “Being on BeReal, which is so focused on authenticity, it would behoove the brand to … think about the audience they’re trying to reach and if that’s the audience that resonates with their brand. they have an authentic story to share, lean into it a bit more and try not to be tempted by the desire to tell a polished story or stay totally on brand the whole time.
For brands that see a good fit on BeReal, she suggests behind-the-scenes content — like what Chipotle aims to provide — is often well received. She also points out that “personifying your brand” in a playful way — in the same vein as what Duolingo, Taco Bell and, yes, Chipotle, are doing on TikTok — “gives [audiences] a reason to interact with you and believe in you. This tactic can prove especially effective with younger audiences who are increasingly demanding more humanization, humor, and honesty from brands.
Chipotle, for its part, is excited about the possibilities. Lieberman says the brand identifies with the platform’s emphasis on promoting raw and authentic content, as it wants to be transparent about its ingredients and business operations. Like other users of the platform, Chipotle only has one opportunity per day to feature a real moment – it uses these opportunities to give fans a deeper look into real products and operations. “With BeReal’s focus on authenticity, we’re discussing how we can leverage the platform to give fans behind-the-scenes access to our kitchens and the culinary techniques used to make our real food.” , says Lieberman.
Beware of brands
Some experts, however, are skeptical of brands joining BeReal in any capacity. Brady Donnelly, managing director of Sela, a marketing agency for beauty brands, worries that too many people are logging on with the intention of circumventing the system and posting curated ad-like content. “I would advise brands to stay off the platform until they can determine that the risk of countering authentic network design is worth the benefit of reaching users,” he says.
He’s also skeptical that some form of influencer marketing won’t take over the app. “Yes [brands] feel the need [to join BeReal], it’s relatively obvious that we’ll end up with the same influence strategy we’ll see elsewhere, albeit perhaps in more nuanced and subtle ways. I don’t think the value is still there – [there is] not enough users trying to invade what is supposed to be a safe and authentic space for users.
Karen Freberg, social media expert and professor of strategic communications at the University of Louisville, is more optimistic. “There is a demand for apps like BeReal due to the growing need for authenticity. We have seen the dominance of filters, editing apps, and perfect images and videos shaping the social media industry. As a result, this has increased unrealistic expectations and pressures from various audiences, especially for Gen Z and Millennials. Everyone wants to see what’s really going on, without the filters and edits and modifications.”
Still, she cautions against diving into a new space just for fun – without a well-planned strategy to deliver real value to users. “Gen Z and other audiences can smell an ad a mile away.”
For more, sign up for The Drum’s daily US newsletter here.