After 3 years and zero profits, this is BeReal’s best chance to monetize

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BeReal’s days of social media dominance are long gone. The app, which offers randomized daily two-minute timers prompting users to snap a quick picture of what they’re up to, counted 23 million active users in January 2024—a steep drop from 73.5 million in August 2022. And while brands like Chipotle and e.l.f. Beauty were once joining BeReal in hopes of luring new customers, they’ve largely since abandoned the app, spurned by its lack of product linkage and sponsorship opportunities. 

But earlier this month French video game developer Voodoo acquired the app for more than $535 million, giving it a fresh jolt of life. 

For everything that’s gone wrong at BeReal, with brands fleeing and users dwindling, apparently there were some factors that made it a prime investment opportunity. The app maintained its name recognition, as well as its mission to be an organic, person-to-person form of social media. Better yet, it made little attempt at turning a profit, providing ample room for growth.

“Monetizing was never really a big focus of BeReal,” says Debra Aho Williamson, chief analyst at Sonata Insights. “I think Voodoo can at least give them that.” 

Given that BeReal has long prioritized the everyday user over brands or advertisers, many social media marketers remain skeptical of the app’s staying power. 

“I don’t think [BeReal] can be used as a full-fledged monetized strategy,” Honeycomb Media CEO Kat Duncan says. “They nixed ads, so you can’t sponsor, or ‘boost’ as Meta puts it, a post. It’s mostly about sharing your connection with people, so monetization isn’t necessarily completely impossible, it’s just more of the long term.”

For its part, BeReal isn’t welcoming these brands with open arms. Within the bounds of that two-minute daily timer, the app maintained heavy constraints on its users. Evan Horowitz, cofounder and CEO of Movers+Shakers, describes these challenges from a brand marketing perspective. 

“They don’t give you tallies of your engagement like the other platforms, so it’s very hard to measure the impact,” Horowitz says. “It’s hard to continue to justify the investment and energy.” 

Without these brands at play, BeReal would need a consistent user base to maintain the app’s relevancy, as well as a concerted plan to monetize that usage. To date Voodoo has stated only its desire to promote “​​organic and paid marketing across markets” for the app. Williamson herself remains skeptical of the app’s marketability, at least in its current form.

“It became pretty clear pretty quickly that something where people log in once a day, send a picture, and leave isn’t really sustainable on its own as a business,” she says. 

Of course, introducing advertising into BeReal would also mark a radical departure from the brand’s mission of organic social engagement. “Does that change the ethos of what BeReal is? Do people want to see ads?” Williamson asks.

Still, there’s reason for hope. Horowitz points to BeReal’s cult following, noting that users on Reddit and TikTok decried their love for the app.

To Honeycomb’s Duncan, BeReal stands out as a welcome change from the usual Big Tech players. She says it would be tragic if it were to fall under the weight of its competitors, especially after so many tried to replicate its product, noting, “I hope they keep their heart in it.”



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