In one of my classes, my students started lifting their phones to take pictures. They all lifted them at the same time and then put them right back down. I thought it was a little odd.
When it happened again on a different day in a different class, I really started to get confused.
I finally asked a student what was happening, and that's when I was introduced to BeReal.
BeReal is completely different from Instagram—where you have curated posts with filters—or even TikTok, which tends to be a bit addictive. BeReal is all about going live with your real life.
With BeReal, you take a picture using your front and back cameras. As soon as you're prompted, you take the picture—with no filters—and post it. It’s only then that you can see what others have posted.
I downloaded the app and found it interesting. To be honest, I don’t always post. The notification you receive to post occurs once per day and is unpredictable. You then have only two minutes to take your picture.
If you post late, you are almost shamed. The app actually says how late you posted. Retaking your picture is also frowned upon. You can see in the app if your friends posted late and how many times they retook their pictures.
The idea behind BeReal is to feel good about your life and your friends’ lives. There are no professional influencers on BeReal—these are your friends, their everyday moments, and there's no polished content.
I don’t think I’m alone in this, but when I get that BeReal message, I think about how my picture sitting in front of my computer won’t look very exciting. Some moments in life aren’t very exciting, but that's what makes BeReal so interesting.
The BeReal app was released in January 2020. The app had about 2 million downloads in its first year. Today, there have been almost 74 million downloads, with the United States being the top market.
BeReal is catching on quickly, which makes you think about the psychological factors at play. Let’s look at these three factors and how you can apply them to building connections in your personal and professional life, whether you want to influence your customers or build solid business relationships through employee connections.
As humans, we want to have fun by being spontaneous, which is taking action without thinking about it first. Spontaneity explains why the language learning app Duolingo is working so well. It sends you challenges that give you a break from your daily routine, which is a little bit of spontaneous, free behavior.
We also see spontaneity when events are held by companies. You pay one price to enter the event, but once you're there, you can be spontaneous with what you do next.
Festivals are the same. We had a pizza fest in Phoenix recently. Different vendors had booths with different types of pizzas that you could try from different locations. Once you entered the festival, you could randomly choose what you wanted to do, which created spontaneous fun.
What kind of event can your business create? Maybe it's not a huge festival, but there might be something that allows your customers to have options once they enter.
Authenticity: Importance in Business
Authenticity is a buzzword, but it is not new. It's a concept philosophers talked about long ago and is a large part of BeReal’s success.
As individuals, we create ourselves through our personal decisions. Our freedom lies in knowing that nothing external can shape our identity. To be authentic is to be completely true to who you are, which informs your decisions without being influenced by others.
What does it mean to be an authentic leader? What does it mean to be an authentic employee? What does it mean to have an authentic brand?
One study found that when business leaders are viewed as authentic, it leads to employee well-being as employee trust in the organization increases. Employees perform better and make more ethical decisions.
You can take some actions to help you be an authentic business leader. One of the most important—which isn't always easy—is disclosing your weaknesses.
People know that nobody’s perfect. Be okay with saying, “You know what, this is an area that I have to work harder on because it doesn't come naturally to me.” If you disclose your weaknesses, your team will trust your honesty in other areas, too.
Authentic employees enjoy better job satisfaction, higher performance, and greater work engagement. They are happier in the workplace.
The Personal Environment Fit Theory sheds light on authentic employees. If there is a misfit between you and your work environment, it can cause nervousness and a decline in overall well-being. To be an authentic employee, you need to be in an environment where you do not need to please others by concealing who you really are.
Look for an environment where you feel more energetic and more comfortable and where you believe your organization aligns with your core values, your personality, and what drives you as a person.
What if you’re in an environment where that’s not the case? What if you do start to reveal more of your true self? Will that improve your environment or make it worse? This is where you come to tough decisions.
If your company is truly a mismatch, it could be time to look for another environment.
As a brand, you have to put out an authentic message. First and foremost, you must be clear about your brand, what it stands for, what it promises, and what it all means to your customers.
Storytelling is probably another overused buzzword. We tend to think it means we have to share our brand story. However, for the most part, customers aren’t genuinely interested in the details of a brand’s story. We need to tell the stories of our customers and what we bring to their lives through our products and services.
What's fantastic about sharing customer stories is that it forms social proof. Hearing what other customers have experienced is much more relevant to you and shows that others have trusted this organization.
Making up customer stories tends to backfire. You want to be authentic and transparent while showing empathy for your customers.
Forming Authentic Connections
What makes BeReal fun is, as soon as you post that picture, you can see what other people are doing at that same moment. We strive for that connection as humans.
Research shows that we experience excitement with activities like attending a concert or joining a fitness class—anything that helps us synchronize with other people and gives us common ground with them.
Connection explains why multiplayer online games are so popular. You can jump on the game and synchronize with other players. You’re experiencing the same thing at the same time and can talk to each other through your headsets.
Building Connections: Practical Tips
Let’s look at some tips for building employee connection in your business and inspiring your customers through vulnerability and connection.
You can offer virtual synchronous classes, which means that people take classes at the same time and know other people are participating. You could even hold classes in your store if you have one. You could also host events. You can do many things to bring people together and help them feel connected as they build authentic relationships.
Then there's spontaneity. Remember, it's all about having fun. Can you offer your product or service in a range of flexible options? You could have customers prepay so they aren’t thinking about payments or the cost of consumption. That way, they’re just having fun experiencing your product or service.
Don’t forget about authenticity. Whether you’re a leader, an employee, or running a brand, be true to who you are and make that authenticity clear to others. Authenticity builds trust, which fosters well-being within your organization and helps everyone build genuine relationships. This can also encourage loyalty.
Are you ready to be real in business? Because it’s really what your customers want. It’s also what your employees want.