What internal comms can learn from BeReal

Since its launch in December 2019, social media app BeReal has grown its monthly active users 315% yearly to date. The rise of the app reflects an increasing demand for authenticity and imperfection in communications that spans beyond employees’ personal lives. Here’s what internal comms can do to embrace the call for greater transparency in employee comms.

The rise of BeReal and what it means

Whenever a new, hot social app hits the scene, communicators pay attention. What’s this app doing to engage its users, and what does it say about changing content preferences? In the battle for audience attention, staying on top of the latest content trends is mission-critical.

BeReal is the app of the moment. With more than 73.5m users as of November 2022, BeReal is topping Apple’s App Store Charts in the US, UK, and Australia. The essence of the app is one of authenticity and raw reality. Dubbed the anti-Instagram app, BeReal’s success predicates a growing desire for less filtered, polished content.

For those unfamiliar, BeReal is an app that asks users to post unfiltered photos of themselves once a day. When the BeReal notification sounds, users flock to the app to activate their front and back cameras to post an in-the-moment shot of them and their surroundings. Photos can’t be edited, and if users miss the alert, they have to wait until the next day to try again.

Where the hero apps of the last decade (Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook etc) are underpinned by curated feeds and filtered stories, BeReal strikes back by encouraging users to be more authentic, less polished, and more, well, real.

The rise of BeReal signals a bigger cultural shift. An antidote to the filter culture that has dominated the last decade, BeReal’s success demonstrates an increasing demand for honest, authentic content. In the era of fake news, deep fakes, and filters, imperfection is making a comeback that can’t be ignored.

The call for authenticity runs deep

You might think the BeReal trend only relates to younger audience preferences, but the reality is that we’re seeing demands for authenticity across the board.

In advertising, authenticity is a deciding factor for 90% of consumers, and 51% believe that less than half of brand-created content is authentic. To counteract this, many brands have begun to rely more heavily on user-generated content (UGC) to create more real, relatable messaging for their consumers. Less polished, realistic UGC is perceived to be more authentic and therefore preferred by 67% of viewers.

Equally, in recruitment, candidates are more determined to uncover the truth about a company before choosing to work with them. In fact, more than 65% of candidates check a minimum of 5 reviews from past and present employees to help them form a more accurate opinion of the company, rather than simply trusting what the company tells them. Similarly, in e-commerce, 98% of consumers check online reviews before making a purchase.

It’s time for internal comms to get real 

So, for internal communicators seeking to drive engagement with comms and build trust with their audiences, what does all this mean? It means that the days of polished comms, ghost-written leadership blogs, and faceless updates are over. Your audience is craving relatable content that they can trust.

Internal communicators set the tone for culture by shaping the conversations that happen around the business. As marketing guru Seth Godin said in his recent Unite 22 keynote, “you are the people who tell the story of how things are done around here.” So, what can you do to elevate transparency and build trust with your audience?

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#1. Nurture a platform for transparency

Technology is often described as the great leveller. It has the power to break down barriers to entry and enable greater transparency. Outside the workplace, the most popular applications are the ones where users reign supreme. And the same should be true inside the workplace.

Gone are the days of one-way communications, today, the demand is for collaborative, two-way comms driven by community. Your intranet or employee experience platform should be the bedrock for open, transparent discussion. A place where all your employees can come to learn ‘how things are done around here,’ free of jargon, fluff, filters, and judgment.

leadership form

#2. Revive leadership comms

The old days of hearing from your CEO once a month in a ghost-written e-newsletter are over. Today employees are turning to their leaders for reassurance. 60% expect CEOs to speak publicly about social and political opinions, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2022. And 52% are prepared to quit if they feel their employer doesn’t align with their values and support the issues they care about.

The lesson here is that employees don’t just want to hear from their leaders; they want to understand their values and relate to their views. The best leaders are embracing this call to arms and using digital platforms to break down barriers and connect with employees across the company. People trust people, so the more your employees see and hear from leaders in candid addresses, Q&A sessions, or self-authored posts, the more relatable and trusted they become.

Leadership vlog

#3. Lean into enterprise social

Introducing safe spaces for social discussion signals to your employees that you trust them to share their views and have a stake in business comms. If you’re not providing a space for employees to share their opinions freely, they’ll do it elsewhere. Put social at the heart of your comms strategy. Create channels for discussion around specific topics – work-related and extracurricular – and let employees know that their voice matters. Encourage them to post photos, share stories and react to news; and reward them for their participation.

social channel

Sign:

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#4. Democratize authorship

There’s nothing more real than hearing from your colleagues about their own experiences. With front-end content editing, it’s possible for any employee to contribute articles without having to be trained on how to use your CMS. Giving employees a platform to share their successes, opinions, and ideas supports a collaborative approach to communications. If you’re communications approach is still largely top-down, look at ways to redress the balance and amplify different voices from around the business.

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#5. Put purpose over polish

The golden rule to activating a greater sense of authenticity is to drop the polish. Fancy graphics and perfect articulation are no substitute for honest, authentic communication. Making mistakes makes you human. So, if grammar isn’t perfect or if you stumble in a video recording – that’s ok! It’s better than ok – it makes you real and relatable, and that’s what employees really want.

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How The Estée Lauder Companies is elevating trust through transparency

Another enterprise that’s seizing the opportunity to use its digital estate to endorse a culture of transparency, is The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC). ELC’s Leadership Office is a dedicated portal for all things relating to the CEO, and is a direct representation of the company’s commitment to frequent leadership conversation and updates.

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The Estée Lauder Companies: Designing the world's best intranet

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The Office of William P. Lauder invites ELC employees to access all the CEO’s updates, which are not only shared through news articles but through video and audio content. Featured videos help to break down the barriers of location and distance, allowing all employees to see and hear him as he addresses the company, helping to build a deeper, more meaningful connection with the CEO.

Additionally, the dedicated area shares more than just business updates; it contains personal information about the CEO and other leadership, including family, how he spends his downtime, and his recommended reading list. This presents a more real and authentic view of the CEO and shows that it’s more than just about giving business updates – it’s about getting to know him as a person.

ELC Leadership

Unlock a culture of trust with a collaborative platform

To find out how technology can become a vehicle for cultural change at your organization, get started with a free demo of the employee experience platform trusted by the world’s biggest brands today.

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