Every year new social apps launch and one or two catch fire for a little while. Few last more than 6 months.
The latest of these is Be Real. A photo sharing app that has introduced a few different mechanics which feel like direct protests to what Instagram has been doing lately.
• You can only post once a day when the app prompts you
• You can only see what friend have posted when you have posted
• There are no filters or edits
• A ‘post’ includes both your front and back cameras
Yo!, Path, House Party, Ello, Dispo, Clubhouse, Snapchat, TikTok all felt similar. I like to try them all as they’re often real time responses to what Meta and co. are missing or getting wrong or simple can’t try. They’re these contained social experiments that represent possible new directions for the evolution of how we communicate and interact with our phones.
There is a Darwinian flavour to it all with some things surviving and flourishing (Snaps stories is a good example) and others dying (RIP the Yo! button).
Most of these products all tend to get a single or double-digit million seed round or series A (Be Real has raised USD$30m) and I remember Yo! Getting seven million or something crazy.
So they all have these runways to try new things, experiment and see if they break out of the early adopter world and reach a larger audience (then add ads!) or get acquired by Mum and Dad.
It’s a fascinating cycle to watch.
I’ve been using Be Real for four months and I think one of the most interesting new ideas is the ‘RealMoji’ feature. This lets you set 6 different reactions which are photos of you that you can then add in response to a friends post. It replaces the heart, thumbs up, sad face, etc. that Facebook, LinkedIn etc. all do now.
I like seeing my friends friends responses to their posts. It makes me feel more part of a community in a way that comments and thumbs up don’t.
Right now, Be Real is fun and more interesting that most things on my phone. I hope that all or part of it exist this time next year.