Can Instagram ever be authentic again?

When it appeared in app stores, Instagram was a small social network intended for photography lovers who, with the help of a mobile phone and recognizable filters, can create great shots. Almost 12 years later, Instagram is much more than that. Admittedly, saying that this application is “much more than a social network” can have a double meaning, and this time we will not deal with Instagram as a part of our everyday life, but with its need to integrate the best of the competition, especially lately.

It all started with Snapchat stories and the famous filters that Instagram, at the height of their popularity, adopted as a content format that it will offer to its users. Instagram Reels, which are also available to us, are Instagram’s obvious answer to the mega-popular TikTok.

Another social network that probably needs to be impressed that a social media giant wants to adapt it to itself is BeReal, which, despite having existed for two years, only experienced a real “boom” in mid-2022. This, of course, should not surprise us, since younger generations prefer honesty, as well as formats that are not permanent but disappear after 24 hours, which is much more fun and dynamic.

In the simplest terms, BeReal is a network that celebrates the authenticity and truthfulness of a given moment, however ordinary and perhaps even boring it may be. Namely, every day at a random time, users receive a notification that it’s time to “be real”. Within two minutes, and with the simultaneous use of the front and rear cameras, you should record what you are doing at that moment, no matter how unglamorous it is. It is already clear to you from the beginning – “raw” BeReal is almost the exact opposite of “staged” Instagram.

“The emergence of a social network like this is a consequence of the decentralization of Instagram’s functions”, says Nikola Jagodić, digital marketing specialist of the Smartpoint agency, and adds: “This is a great opportunity for all those who base their ideas on micro niches – this is currently the most popular field of startup development where the focus is on one narrow target group or one function (feature) of a certain application”.

Foto: Screenshot BeReal

Instagram’s first move to catch the wave of popularity of this format is the introduction of the Dual option, which allows you to record your story using both cameras at the same time – also without filters. However, even though Instagram Dual appeared at a similar time when BeReal began to attract attention, Instagram emphasized that it was an option that they had been testing for years, and that this coincidence happened by chance.

Now, Instagram is testing a new option, IG Candid Challenges, which is supposedly inspired by the BeReal app, but is actually a 100% copy of it. Does the reminder to write down what you are currently doing every day at different times sound familiar? That’s what we thought.

The IG Candid Challenges option is still in the testing phase, internally, and a decision has yet to be made when it will be available to the general public, and even if it will happen at all. However, if the popularity of the BeReal network continues to grow, there is no doubt that Instagram will want its share of the pie.

“Instagram imitates almost every new social network by integrating similar functions into its ecosystem, which aims to keep users from potential migrations to new channels. In this way, Instagram centralizes all existing functions in one application. And not only that – in its second application, Facebook, it introduces the same functions that it owns. As a result, Facebook and Instagram become competitors to each other, without the average user even noticing the difference between them,” explains Jagodić, emphasizing that the emergence of new social networks actually gives users the freedom to choose what format of content they want to watch and constantly search for something new that after all, it’s in their nature.

Given the size of the market, the evolution of the competition, and the digital trends themselves, we probably shouldn’t blame Instagram for wanting to stay on top by adapting its content creation formats to what’s popular at any given moment, as much as that might bother us on an extremely personal level. But the question that needs to be asked here first is: is there any place for authenticity on Instagram?

Despite the fact that, under the influence of TikTok, we can increasingly see reality on Instagram that is not beautified, content that is Instagram is still dominating – perfectly designed, polished, aesthetic, but mostly rigged, insincere, the way Instagram likes it. And really, how many people are turning a deaf ear to the current Instagram aesthetic? Whether we want to admit it or not, we care about presenting our lifestyle as almost ideal, however much we have to pretend.

Foto: Unsplash

BeReal is none of those things. On the discovery feed, you will come across a bunch of blurry shots due to bad lighting, clumsy frames and funny selfies. No one seems to care what the final product will look like or what other users will think of it. It seems like it’s all just fun after all.

For now, the idea of ​​this network is for its users to share their daily thoughts and things they do, spontaneously and naturally, as they used to on Facebook, and not to create a base of followers thanks to which they will become influencers at some point. This means that BeReal has in a way a more traditional, truly social concept, but unfortunately, the question is how long it will manage to survive as such today – almost every alternative becomes mainstream at some point.

BeReal probably owes its popularity to the fact that we are really tired of forced content. And yet, even though it can’t make us really “get real,” it can at least remind us of the times when we understood all this differently. Who knows, we might want to return to them.

And Instagram? Nikola Jagodić, digital marketing specialist of the Smartpoint agency, believes that this kind of violent takeover of the functions of other applications will reach the Meta company at some point and that it is a question of the moment when that bubble will burst due to too much “sucked” content.

Can we imagine it? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean it’s not certain.

Photo: Nikola Jagodić, Digital Marketing Specialist, SmartPoint Adria

For the Marketing network, the text was written by: Ivana Tomić, Brand Specialist, SmartPoint Adria

Source: Marketing Mreža by

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