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A new social media platform is in town, and it’s quickly picking up steam.
Lemon8 is owned by ByteDance, the China-based parent company that owns TikTok, and it’s had a buzzy debut in the U.S.
It was originally launched in Japan in 2020 and became available in the U.S. and UK in February 2023. In the past month, it’s become the second most-downloaded lifestyle app in the U.S. behind Pinterest.
Speaking of Pinterest…
Lemon8 is described as a Pinterest-Instagram hybrid. At its core, Lemon8 is a photo-sharing app designed to inspire users.
While users and creators have been vocal about their frustrations with Instagram and its unpredictable algorithm over the past couple of years, are people looking for the next Pinterest when they could still use the original?
By the end of 2022, over 450 million active users were on Pinterest. Not too shabby, though the user base is significantly smaller than the likes of YouTube (2.6 billion users), Instagram (2.3 billion users), and TikTok (1.6 billion users).
Though Pinterest has a smaller user base than other social channels, its users are generally happy with the platform. In fact, 80% of Pinterest users feel positive when using it. Nine out of 10 Pinterest users refer to it as a “social media oasis,” and only three out of 10 social media users feel that way about other platforms.
With that in mind, is a “new Pinterest” necessary when the original seems to be doing a good job of keeping its users happy? It all comes down to how the app is used.
While Pinterest users are generally happy with the platform, they essentially use it as a visual search engine.
Many Pinterest users turn to the platform when they’re looking for inspiration related to a specific topic — perhaps a recipe using a certain ingredient, or ways to style a clothing item. They hop on, find what they’re looking for, and hop off. While it’s great for inspiring purchases, it doesn’t have the addicting factor that platforms like TikTok or Instagram have.
That’s where Lemon8 comes in.
Image Source: Lemon8
I downloaded the app to learn more about its functionality and to see what kind of content is available on it (you know, serious investigative journalism). I was quickly sucked into the beautiful content that aligned eerily close with my interests.
Essentially, using Lemon8 is like having the TikTok algorithm serve you the inspirational content of Pinterest formatted like an Instagram post. The main feed is similar to the Pinterest home page, but the posts are reminiscent of Instagram carousels.
Where did Lemon8 come from, and why is everyone talking about it?
If it seemed like all of a sudden everyone on your TikTok For You Page was talking about Lemon8, that’s because they were.
Per The New York Times, ByteDance enlisted micro-creators from other platforms to begin posting on Lemon8. Naturally, creators who are eager to become early adopters on a new platform would want to share their new social media real estate with their existing followers on other platforms. Whether or not they have been compensated to do so has been speculated, but hasn't been confirmed.
Looking at the initial data, the grassroots approach appears to be effective. Since launching in the U.S. in February, Lemon8 has garnered over 17 million downloads in the app store.
How should marketers be looking at Lemon8?
Currently, Lemon8 is heavily user-generated content focused, with no major brands maintaining a notable presence on the app. Though it’s only a matter of time before more brands begin hopping on board.
If your company isn’t ready to start creating Lemon8-specific content, it’s certainly worth getting on the platform to secure your handle and see what’s trending in your niche — particularly for those in the fashion, wellness, and food industries.
It’s also worth noting the user-generated feel of the platform could be a big part of what’s attracting new users. On platforms such as Instagram and TikTok where influencer marketing is to be expected, users can often feel constantly sold to. The authenticity of the organic content on Lemon8 can be a breath of fresh air compared to the constant stream of #sponsored content on other platforms.
With this in mind, brands looking to establish a presence on Lemon8 can benefit from having a healthy mix of organic, user-generated, and promotional content to avoid fatiguing their audiences.
Is Lemon8 worth investing in?
As with any new platform, there are valid concerns over Lemon8’s longevity and whether it's worth investing in.
Because Lemon8 is also owned by ByteDance, it could face the same scrutiny as TikTok over security concerns. With the future usage of ByteDance-owned apps in political limbo, if a TikTok ban were to occur, users in the U.S. could also be barred from Lemon8.
Also, while some social media platforms emerge with a splash, the excitement can quickly fade. In recent years, apps like Clubhouse and BeReal showed promising growth but failed to capture the attention of audiences long-term.
While it’s a good idea for marketers to have a basic level of understanding of new platforms that have captured the attention of audiences, only time will tell if Lemon8 is able to turn social media lemons into lemonade.
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