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BeReal, which now has 23M DAUs, is onboarding brands and celebs

BeReal, a rising social media app that emphasizes authenticity, is making its first outreach to brands and celebrities. Starting February 6, brands and celebrities will be able to sign up as "RealBrands" or "RealPeople," and fans can watch them share behind the scenes moments from their lives that they might not share elsewhere.

BeReal was designed to make social media feel less staged. At a different time each day, users get a push notification telling them it's "time to BeReal," and then they have two minutes to post whatever they're doing. When the app started gaining momentum in 2022, it prioritized helping people connect further with their existing friends. BeReal is supposed to be the anti-Instagram, inviting users to share (mostly) unfiltered glimpses into their daily lives, even if the randomly timed, daily push notification to "BeReal" might capture you washing the dishes rather than doing something cool and glamorous.

Given BeReal's whole deal, the RealBrand and RealPeople features might strike users as being a bit out of left field.

"We know what you're thinking... 'how does something like this fit in with BeReal's mission?'" the blog announcing the feature says. "We believe that by showing that notable people and brands are actually people just like us -- equally boring and interesting at different times -- we help reset and improve some of the negativity that has come from modern social platforms."

BeReal told TechCrunch that it now has 23 million daily active users; in August, BeReal said it had 20 million daily active users, so this marks a small increase. But as its growth decelerates, BeReal needs to figure out how to retain users. Over the last year, BeReal has rolled out a number of new features like groups, mentions, multiple posts per day, pinned posts and a "friends of friends" feed. And according to a Pew study, an estimated 13% of U.S. teens use the app.

But the problem with BeReal, and its commitment to fostering existing friendships, is that it can't make money. That's why Facebook, another company initially motivated by connecting people, turned into an advertising business. BeReal is facing the same unfortunate reality for venture-funded social platforms, which is that at some point, it has to either sell ads or get users to buy premium features. The latter is usually more of a challenge.

These RealBrands and RealPeople are not ads, per se. Like any other user on BeReal, they will have to post on time at the spur of the moment. But it's a pretty easy jump to see how opening the door to brands could be the first step in BeReal's plans to try to earn some revenue.

"For those of you concerned that this is changing our focus, we can assure you that BeReal will always be about friends and close connections first," the blog post says.

Well, if we're about to start seeing BeReal posts from brands, may we humbly nominate the Duolingo Owl for early access?