The rise of Lemon8: The hype behind the influencer-endorsed platform

May 3, 2023

Roxanne Denman

As a creative, Pinterest is my personal alternative to the personally overstimulating realm of Instagram. Pinterest is usually the last platform I visit for the day, helping me to wind down with beautiful visuals of my dream house, bucket-list vacations, and the recipes I want to try but never do. 

If you told me that ByteDance would release an app to rival my all-time favorite straight on the back of a TikTok ban debacle, I would have thought you were bluffing. But the proof is digital, and it seems ByteDance has done it again. The new app combines features from their popular platform TikTok, immersive competitor Instagram, and digital mood board Pinterest. The arrival of the TikTok sister app proves that having many good things in one place is enticing. 

Introducing Lemon8, a charmingly blended brand child from TikTok's creators, launched in 2020. It promises to deliver authentic and diverse content from a youthful community. 

How does it work? 

The interface looks like a vibrant combination of Pinterest and Instagram, with a straightforward and clear-cut layout. Sleek and simple. What more do we need? 

Based on the words from the all-knowing Google Play Store, Lemon8 describes itself as "a place for young creatives to share a diversity of content from fashion, makeup, food, and travel, to homewares, pets, and anything else you can imagine!"

The app masterfully leverages the ByteDance AI technology utilized by TikTok, ensuring a  coveted algorithm that offers personalized recommendations. Personalization is still gaining traction, and because it filters out unappealing irrelevant content for users, we can see why. 

New Lemon8 users are prompted to choose their core interests from a list when signing up. What you experience after is a curated feed based on your selections. Much like rival platforms,  the content includes a mix of static photos and videos but with the added Millennial appeal of ample space for lengthy captions. 

Diving into your page, your expertly personalized feed resembles that of TikTok, or Instagram - with the added benefit of a truly diverse range of content. We are calling Lemon8 what it is – a unified hybrid platform for tailor-made, pleasurable viewing. 

Lemon8 is currently experiencing exponential growth

Their marketing team is leveraging the power of the influencer with a report from the New York Times confirming ByteDance has been paying micro-influencers to push downloads among key demographics. Lemon8 gave influencers specific posting guidelines to promote the platform on TikTok, like making 10 posts in a month with captions of at least 150 words, and a carousel of between 3 and 10 photos. Sure, this level of specificity doesn’t leave much room for creativity on the part of the influencer, but it does push the platform’s end goal. 

While Lemon8 is still unavailable for download in some countries, they are on the precipice of an official and global launch. With downloads already in the region of 17 million and 4.25 active US monthly users, we anticipate the user base to grow significantly in the upcoming months. A good time to jump in? Maybe! 

Watch this space! 

Is Lemon8 an influencer-gilded diversion? 

If you spend any time on social media, you will have heard that  TikTok is facing a global ban, with the United States leading the way. (No surprises there) The interactive app is already banned in some states and 40 other countries due to privacy concerns. So why is ByteDance suddenly pushing a new app under the same company umbrella?

While we can’t say for sure, our crystal ball alludes to the probability that ByteDance is taking advantage of the loophole. Leveraging the massive success of TikTok, and securing a fruitful business venture simultaneously. It could also be that they are trying to use Lemon8 to divert attention from their lengthy fight against the TikTok ban. We may never know for sure, but the speculation is rife (and entertaining).

Whatever their reason – Lemon8’s early success is a good indicator of things to come. 

Lemon8 and marketing efforts

It’s yet to be seen, but from what we know so far, Lemon8 may be a good platform for education marketers to reach prospects. They’ve got the UI down. They’ve mastered the demographic. Influencers are involved. It’s a recipe for success.  Although we have not downloaded the app yet, some reports say that the platform is topic-driven, which is beneficial for marketers wanting to reach their target audience.

While TikTok and Instagram focus on content creation, Lemon8’s formula prefers user-generated content (UGC) influencer marketing. This in itself is both a pro and a con. The Pro is that it weeds out repetitive variations of the same thing, over and over again. The con? It stands the chance of losing creative interest, fast. 

If you haven’t already embraced UGC, but are considering leveraging Lemon8’s future reach, now is the time to test influencer marketing in your strategy. 

Lemon8 and TikTok share similar privacy concerns

Similar to TikTok and other popular social media platforms, Lemon8 collects user data. The data includes your IP address, device information, and browsing history. But the issue is not about data collection - it's about who they share it with and why. Since Lemon8 is also the brainchild of  ByteDance, users are worried about how their information is stored and used. 

No surprises here. Every platform collects data. They all store it and use it for similar reasons. The only way to avoid this as a user is to simply not download or use anything, ever. If you do decide to use Lemon8, ensure you take the same data security measures as you do with your other apps. If you have concerns, avoid giving Lemon8 access to your contacts, location, microphone, etc. Remember - we’re in the age of user control!

What we think

Bytedance wants its space in the US market, and it won't go down without a fight. They have experienced significant success with their US portfolio, including an app called CapCut, an all-in-one video editor.  

Before we give you our opinion, let’s address the elephant in the room. You might be wondering why a seemingly appealing platform launched in 2020 hasn’t risen to Influencer level popularity yet. Well, that comes down to monetization. (Doesn’t everything?) Sure - this could be a valid reason to exclude it from any form of content marketing strategy. But - not everything is monetized from the get-go, and it’s always a wise move to see a platform for its merit, before its profit opportunity. 

Lemon8 is making a splashy debut, and we are here for it. They are spending their money to attract users to their platform before their launch. Why? To ensure the content is engaging enough for users to stay once they have downloaded the app. Smart move.

Whether Lemon8 will be good for education marketing is yet to be seen. Their approach seems topic-driven, with a dual approach to authenticity and personalization. As education marketers, both are at the forefront of our marketing strategies. A platform that drives this would be hard to ignore.  

Lemon8 will either flip or flop. But now is the time for another platform to give social media giants a run for their money. Competition is good for pushing boundaries and encouraging other platforms to sharpen their interactive features and their strategy. 

With the controversy surrounding ByteDance, we seem to be in for a bumpy ride. But with Lemon8's star rising swiftly, at least we’ll be taking the scenic route.  

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