At first glance, social video app Beet, created by Sean Thielen and Jonathan Miller while they were still attending university, looks like Snapchat. It lets users take quick videos that they can share with their friends in the form of “stories,” a montage of all the footage taken throughout the day.
However, Beet comes onto the social video app scene with a much different goal — that is, to save these moments in a photo album-like collection (many of its users are new parents compiling videos of their children). Thielen and Miller describe how Beet users aren’t exactly after amassing a huge following, but about capturing meaningful footage for themselves. They took the time to tell us a bit about their vision and how they set out to fill an empty social video niche, one that isn’t focused on gaining fans.
What is the main idea behind Beet — what’s the point of the app? How are people meant to use it?
Sean Thielen: The idea behind Beet is to offer a more genuine and authentic view of someone’s life. We noticed that there is a lot of disconnect between who people are in real life and the personalities they present on social media. It’s hard to portray a real picture of yourself on social media, just because the nature of those platforms encourages people to pick and choose only those moments that will get the most likes, and we often miss out on sharing the things that matter the most.
So we made Beet to minimize the distance between our real selves and our social personalities. By compiling all of these candid clips into an ongoing video montage, Beet shifts the focus away from just individual moments and instead shows your journey.
Each video platform has its own video time limit. Why choose six seconds? Anything to do with thinking that it works well on Vine?
Jonathan Miller: Yeah, we definitely like how well the six second limit works for Vine. The way we’ve appropriated that thinking into Beet is that the six second “moment” occupies a kind of liminal space between photo and video — it’s more engaging and more valuable than a photo, but it’s less intense than watching a full video. In the montage format when you’re playing someone’s story, it keeps things moving and interesting without being overwhelming.
Snapchat is the obvious comparison to Beet. What differentiates the two?
ST: We love what Snapchat is doing with their Stories, but we wanted to take it in a different and more impactful direction. Where Snapchat is all about content that only lasts a few seconds and then deletes, Beet is about telling an ongoing story that has value both to yourself and to your followers. A lot of moments aren’t going to end up on a SnapStory just because they’re moments people want to remember and look back on long-term. For example, we have a lot of travelers and new parents using Beet and the people building those stories are going to want to keep them forever.
Beet also allows you to discover new users and join stories with the community, where Snapchat misses out on that sense of community.
How do you go about using both Snapchat and Beet?
ST: I use Snapchat as a communication tool, but Beet is for capturing and sharing memories.
How did you get the idea to launch this kind of a social video app?
JM: It goes back to the idea of social platforms like Instagram and Facebook encouraging users to only share those moments that they think are going to get the most likes, and oftentimes missing out on the moments that might be the most important. We wanted to create a platform that told the true story of your life — not just the “highlight reel” — in a way that was engaging and powerful.
What do you think is lacking in the social video space? What are some areas that could be improved upon and what are some that you can’t touch because they’re already working so well?
JM: I think something we found lacking, and something we’re working to solve with Beet, is that people are already taking these quick, candid videos of moments they want to remember, and then they never do anything with them. No one is going to upload a six-second video to Youtube, Facebook, or Instagram of their child playing at the park, or of them singing happy birthday, or of them getting off an airplane, etc., because those platforms don’t encourage that kind of content. It’s not engaging for followers, even if it’s a powerful and important moment to the person filming. The goal of Beet is to give these little videos the context necessary for others to understand their importance and engage with them in a meaningful way.
Who’s using Beet Stories so far?
ST: We’ve had a lot of cool stories on Beet so far. We have a lot of parents using the app (including a few that started filming during pregnancy, and now the baby is a few months old!), as well as a lot of people who have used it to film vacations and trips, and a ton of people who are just living their lives. We recently added a feature called “Today on Beet” that shows a curated story of our favorite videos for the day, so that gives a pretty good idea of who is using Beet and how they’re using it.
Our userbase is very diverse. One of our biggest demographics has actually been parents filming their children, essentially creating a movie of their child’s entire life!