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Our First Day on Beme: A Haphazard App Review

Anneliese Sparks
Our First Day on Beme: A Haphazard App Review

Right now, our favorite creator on YouTube is Casey Neistat.I’ve been following him since he brilliantly picked apart Chatroullete way back in 2010. He’s been my go-to explainer of all things social media since then. The guy just gets how to be yourself online.

Recently, Mr. Neistat has perfected his style to the point that he’s managed to pull off a cinematic-quality daily vlog for the past four months. His popularity skyrocketed with every post - currently capping at a little over 800,000 subscribers. And every single one of those daily vlogs has quietly alluded to Casey’s new digital venture: a social media app he calls Beme.

In short, Beme is basically a more honest version of Snapchat.

Unlike Snapchat, where you have the ability to add text, filter, and most importantly, redo your photos and videos, Beme doesn’t allow for any of those options. The purpose of this is to remove our insecurities, which most social apps tend to play into, and let people get a glimpse of our lives cut and dry.

How Beme Works

Essentially, you hold the phone to your chest (with the screen facing towards you) and it records video for four seconds. The way it knows how to record is by covering up a sensor above the earpiece of a device and it will vibrate or ring when recording. This gives your eyes the ability to focus on whatever you’re looking at and not fixated on your screen.

When you remove the phone from your chest, it gets posted to your feed where people can view it only once and then the beme disappears forever. You aren’t even able to watch it yourself. However, while watching a video, you can take reaction selfies by quickly tapping on the screen and those get sent to the user for viewing. These ‘reactions’ are the only way you’ll know if your bemes are good or not.

But enough about that – let’s get inside SEMrush’s first day at Beme.

SEMrush's First Day Using Beme

8:17 AM

Peter arrives at the office way too early and tired. Get ready for another fun/tiring day of writing and yelling on the Internet about the Internet.

8:30 AM

Casey Neistat surprise-announces the early release of Beme on the app store via his vlog. PANIC.

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 12.50.01 PM

8:33 AM

Peter comes to the SOUL-CRUSHING conclusion that Beme isn’t available on android yet. HEART. BROKEN.

8:47 AM

Anneliese arrives in the office. She has an iPhone. WE’RE IN BUSINESS.

9:13 AM

We coerce an activation code out of a New York Times reporter. We still have no idea how we pulled this off.

9:29 AM

After fifteen minutes of holding Anneliese’s phone to our chests, we accidentally post our first beme. Each beme video is 4 seconds long, and once we figure it out, it’s super fun.

9:45 AM

We have posted approximately 225 bemes. We have no idea how to see what we’ve posted.

10:00 AM

We run wild around our office, grabbing every iPhone we see and adding everyone we know to beme to try and get a look at what we’ve posted.

10:15 AM

We still don’t see a gosh-dang second of what we think we’ve posted.

10:30 AM

After what feels like an ETERNITY, our first bemes become visible in our feed due to server lag. The WHOLE INTERNET is trying to jump on this platform at once. It’s an almost wildly unprecedented app release. Has there ever been an app with this many early adopters this quickly?

11:00 AM

We start getting our first reactions. They range from awesome to kiiiiind of creepy. No one ever said being a girl on the Internet was gonna be easy.

11:01 AM

We IMMEDIATELY come to the end of our ‘reactions’ feed. It’s a kind of soul crushing message:


11:05 AM

We start watching bemes from around the world and sending our own reactions. People like getting reactions from Anneliese. They 100% do NOT like seeing Peter’s face.


11:30 AM

We begin to write this blog post and let the reactions roll in. It’s a cool day to be on the internet.

Our Review of Beme:

I’ll admit, when I heard Casey explain what Beme was, I thought it was going to be incredibly stupid. I had huge expectations of what Beme was going to be capable of, and this thing that Mr. Neistat and crew had created seemed way too simple to be the revolution I wanted.

Also how the heck am I supposed to post good quality video when I’m holding a phone against my body?

But after our first Bemes started going live – it became really evident that this is a GREAT way to post online video. Shoving your phone into your chest stabilizes the image – and it picks up your voice in startlingly strong quality.

And even better – Beme is SO MUCH MORE AWESOME at helping you discover cool strangers than Snapchat is. It becomes this amazing and honest log of what random people are doing with their day. And getting ‘reaction’ selfies has a lot more emotion than likes and shares.


And rather than showing shares or whatever, Beme simply says how long how many people have spent time as you. In just the first hour, 23 people spent 7 minutes and 49 seconds as us. I can’t wait to see how huge that number gets.

I also like how ephemeral it is – now when I do something dumb on the Internet, at least I know it won’t last forever. Snapchat almost had this down perfectly, but I found myself discarding SO MANY snapchat stories just because I didn’t like one feature on my face.

Beme doesn’t give me that option – and just kind of forces me to create. I love the openness and honesty this shocks out of people. I love the random stories I’m getting everywhere from nearby Skippack, PA to some random spot in Northern England.

For the first time in a long time – I really think we’ve found a social network that actually supports you finding new friends. And that’s huge. It might be the most enormous thing to happen on the Internet in awhile.

If only they’d get it on Android soon.

Beme is currently only available for iOS devices (8.0 or later) and is an invite-only system where you need an unlock code to become activated. You can download the app here.

What do you think? Do you see Beme becoming a realistic part of your social routine? Give us your thoughts below.

Webinar Producer/ Host at SEMrush, Peter Starr Northrop is a writer, educator and communicator with stumbling-style and a too-loud voice to go with it. His short-but-dense career has spanned everything from teaching Biology and Chemistry to students in a remote province in Thailand to running his own Shakespearian Theatre company in Busan, South Korea. Be sure to check out his viral guide on how to read Russian in 15 minutes. At SEMrush, Peter shouts all things digital marketing in his way-enthusiastic webinar series.

A thunderous Detroit-Native, Anneliese Sparks has marketed her way across the country, finding work everywhere from the wilds of Savannah, GA to making it in a big way in New York City. She is currently a Marketing Associate for SEMrush and responsible for all sorts of cool happenings in the digital marketing world.

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Anneliese Sparks is a Social Media Manager at SEMrush and is responsible for all sorts of cool happenings in the digital marketing world.
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Beme was all hype and no delivery--I guess it might fill some void, but Casey is popular for making thoughtful, well-edited videos that sometimes go viral. It's odd that beme is so opposite. Also, as there is no social media integration on beme, it is a very limited platform.

Someone needs to create a YouTube like the original YouTube--a site for posting videos with lots of categories and a daily/weekly/monthly ranking system that is based on meritocracy rather than advertising algorithms. YouTube now shoves users to content partners, making it much more difficult to be "discovered."
Gracious Store
I have not used this app before but from the description I'll surely go for it
I downloaded it and I think it's a good proof-of-concept for a more honest experience. I can see some business implications, not sure if the teenager crowd will catch on though.
Anneliese Sparks
Scott, I think you're right. After having Beme for a couple weeks, I don't see myself feeling compelled to use it for entertainment purposes. Seeing what strangers are doing is cool, but not cool enough.
ugh i used it for a week and am over it. it's just a gimmicky snap chat
Interesting concept, but if snapchat added tools to discover people(which they are working on) the only thing the app would have, in my eyes would be the "not-edited" or reviewed part, which would be just like snapchat if you didn't edit one.
Peter Starr Northrop
Austin Sandmeyer
I agree, but I think half the fun is the WAY Beme connects you to strangers. There's always a new person both nearby and far away. I don't see Snapchat updating itself like that anytime soon. Snapchat was founded on the idea that you had to know someone BEFORE you connected with them on their platform. I doubt snapchat discover will ever branch out into new users--and I don't think they'll ever be able to pull it off with the authenticity that Beme does.

What do you think?
Peter Starr Northrop
That's very true, but I think the process they are using to "invite" new users, is mainly just bringing people in and back out of the app. Once they get it, then they are over it. They need some "meat and potatoes" (value proposition) to offer once inside. I think the ability to send to strangers near and far is like the app "Fling"