TikTok company pushes new social media app Lemon8 – will this work?

Author: Steffen Meyer, Mobile Marketing Content Specialist

Did you recently hear the claim along the lines “If Instagram and Pinterest had a baby, it would be Lemon8”?
If you have, you are most probably a frequent TikTok user, since the social network was swamped with creators talking about this new app in the last weeks, catapulting it in the top 10 of the Apple Appstore first (check out its current position here).

A brief summary around the Lemon8 discussion

Probably though, the buzz wasn’t a coincidence when you see which company is behind this highly talked about social media aspirant: It’s ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok as well. 

As Business Insider reports (Paywall), the company actually paid creators to post on their new network and some suggest that the people talking about it on TikTok have other than intrinsic motivation to do so as well.

Paying creators to advertise your stuff isn’t new but by creating this buzz and in consequence amassing downloads of the app in a short amount of time, people experience marketer’s beloved “Fear of Missing out”: Creators, consultants and journalists didn’t want to be seen as last movers and reported about this new app as well, thus creating virality and attention.

But will this hype stay? If you ask ChatGPT about Lemon8’s future, it states “that the success of any social media platform depends on various factors, such as user engagement, content quality, and competition from other platforms.” 

Wow. How insightful.

But honestly, the AI text tool pretty much sums up the fact that no one can predict how Lemon8 will play out. 
However, with more and more countries restricting the use of TikTok and India having banned it, some speculate that ByteDance relies on Lemon8 to stay in the market, thus investing a lot to push it onto consumers. Though it’s questionable that the new app won’t be wrapped up in the legal drama around TikTok as well, as social media consultant Rachel Karten tweets.

What do experts say about it?

As marketers, it surely won’t hurt to download the app and have a look yourself. If the app isn’t available in your country for now, visit the webpage www.lemon8-app.com and choose a region to get a feel for it.

As you will quickly see, its focus lies on images rather than videos, and judging from the categories, the main interests of users are supposed to be lifestyle and fashion.

Right now, you find many creators that explain what they think of the app. There are many positive reviews but you can’t trust them, since ByteDance may have paid some of them.

So here are some insights gathered from more reliable sources:

  • Marketingbrew.com cites from venture capitalist Turner Novak’s newsletter that Lemon8 heads in the opposite direction as TikTok which pushes into current events, trends, and live streaming. On the other hand, Lemon8 with its focus on “evergreen reviews, lifestyle content, text, and photos starts eating into the use cases of Reddit, Instagram, and Pinterest.”
  • The “ideal creator portrait” for Lemon8 is a 22- to 26-year-old woman in New York or Los Angeles area with a focus on fashion or beauty, as the New York Times cites presentations shared with marketing agencies in January. 

So if there weren’t the legal struggles surrounding TikTok, Lemon8 would most likely be seen as a new contestant for Instagram (and maybe Pinterest) than a strategic replacement for ByteDance’s video-driven social network.

Look at the development from a global perspective

And if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that ByteDance actually started Lemon8 in China as well – under the name of Kesong. It was seen as a competitor to Xiaohongshu, “China’s answer to Instagram” which captures an estimated 15 percent of China’s online e-commerce market

ByteDance tried to get a slice of the cake but after a few weeks, the app was taken down from the app store. Vice.com speculates: “Perhaps that’s why it focused Lemon8 on markets such as Japan and Thailand, where the market is notably less saturated.”

Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure: ByteDance invests a lot to push its app into the market, and even if it doesn’t succeed in the US, it could come out on top in other countries – and especially marketers with customers all around the globe should closely watch this development.

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