When life gives you lemons, make Lemon8
We know what you’re thinking. ANOTHER social media app…Really?! We thought the same thing. And after downloading and testing out the new platform, much to our marketing department’s delight, we just had to discuss it. And, by ‘we’, we mean Ella and Ellie.
Ella Bradley & Ellie Cameron
We’re writing this post from the perspective of a social and concepts creative (Ella) as well as from a content and SEO point of view (Ellie). Like our names, our roles are pretty similar too.
What is Lemon8?
Picture this – Pinterest and Instagram have a love child. Meet Lemon8.
The video and photo-sharing platform, owned by ByteDance, is lifestyle-based with a focus on creativity. For now, this app is being called a ‘lifestyle community’ and mainly caters to users’ interest in wellness, beauty, travel and food. Similar to TikTok, the main feed is divided into ‘For You’ and ‘Following’ but can also be sorted into content categories. Like Instagram’s Explore tab, another of Lemon8’s pages organises content by hashtags, and trending content can be found through keyword searches.
We’re still figuring out Lemon8’s audience demographic, but the popular estimate is that it is targeting Gen-Z. To compare, Instagram and TikTok’s primary audiences are 18–24-year-olds. Facebook and Pinterest’s demographics are 25–34-year-olds. Current creators and content on Lemon8 are also seemingly a lot more skewed towards a female audience.
How has it launched?
While Lemon8 seems new to us in the UK, the app has been around for a few years now.
Lemon8 was born in Japan back in 2020 as a direct competitor of Xiaohongshu, or Little Red Book. Little Red Book has been called ‘China’s Instagram on steroids’ (Business Insider) and holds a huge share of China’s social networking and e-commerce market – now Lemon8 hopes to do the same over here and in the US.
The app was soft launched in the US and UK in February 2023 and has reportedly paid certain influencers to make posts to build up content. As of June 2023, Lemon8 sits at number 20 on Apple App Store’s Top Charts in the UK.
Influencers we’ve been speaking to have said Lemon8 is offering creators £30 to post, but this doesn’t seem to be common knowledge. On socials we are seeing quite a few videos reviewing and promoting Lemon8, but the lack of noticeable ad disclosures is a little concerning - as discussed here.
What is it like as a platform?
To put it bluntly, Lemon8 isn’t anything particularly different to what we’ve seen before. The app is an image and video sharing platform, with the same mechanics as our other social media friends Instagram and TikTok – your newsfeed is algorithmic, you follow your favourite creators, and you have the same engagement metrics.
But, although Lemon8 is a nepo baby of TikTok, and shares similarities with Pinterest and Instagram, one app that it really does remind us of is CapCut. CapCut is a short-form video editing software that is also owned by ByteDance (can you see a theme forming?) that allows creators to elevate their content with a range of fonts and stickers.
Similarly, Lemon8 provides users with a bank of fonts, from calligraphic style to bold display types, a range of stickers, as well as various formatting options to use on static images. Interestingly though, you can’t edit videos with such creativity. The app only currently lets you add music (from a very limited library) and trim the duration, meaning there is still a need for CapCut.
Creativity plays a huge part in Gen Z’s identity, with significantly more of them considering ‘aesthetic’ as their ‘greatest mental strength’ (16% vs 6% nat rep) (YouGov). Social media users are taking more pride in how their content looks e.g #InstagramStoryEdit has over 47 MILLION views on TikTok, with videos including design tutorials and tips. This is a prime example of how people are consciously making an effort to enhance their content – even if followers only consume it for 60 seconds and move on.
How can brands show up?
One thing of note is the current inability to distinguish ad content from user-generated content. While there is a hashtag #Lemon8partner which identifies posts created in collaboration with the app itself, there doesn’t seem to be any kind of disclosure for creators working with brands. Currently, there are no paid advertising opportunities on Lemon8. This means that brands work with creators directly to feature their products.
For all brands, SEO will be key for getting noticed on the app. With Lemon8’s focus on searches via hashtags, brands should ensure that they are using relevant SEO keywords to help users find content easily and increase audience reach.
While some brands may be hesitant to invest in Lemon8 content due to its close relationship with TikTok, there are some great ways to get involved early on the app from a brand perspective. Including:
Sharing diverse and authentic content – people are moving away from Instagram due to the boredom that comes with ‘perfectly curated feeds’. With Lemon8 users valuing authenticity, brands can leverage this and create real, authentic content that showcases personality through their design features.
Creating engaging content – 57% of internet users use social media to find out about new brands and products (GWI). Lemon8 offers the opportunity for brands to show their products in a lifestyle or service setting which is a great way to inspire potential customers.
Don’t forget about genuinely useful content – when there is more than one image in a post, it is laid out in a similar format to an Instagram Carousel. But, with the ability to annotate images, this lends itself nicely to bitesize how tos and guides about your product or brand. Helpful, easy to execute, and will appear extremely native to the platform (and not too ad-y).
What do we predict?
I don’t think that Lemon8 will replace any of the big social media stars like Instagram or TikTok but there’s no reason why it won’t gain its own fanbase and traction. Lemon8 seems like a genuinely nice place to browse and hang out online without the drama that comes with other social apps. For brands, we don’t expect it will be long before brands who focus in the current Lemon8 topic areas have a place to show up in the app as business profiles. Of course, the natural progression for the app will be ads. If we follow the same trend we’ve seen across other social media apps from a brand perspective, early adopters get in quick, build a decent sized profile and organic reach, and that reach will subsequently plummet, forcing brands to pay to play.
I believe that it’s going to be tricky for Lemon8 to create a presence and establish a worthy placement in Gen-Z’s mind. Until Lemon8 figure out creator monetisation techniques, it’s going to be hard to predict the success of Lemon8. With so many creators sharing specific products, tagging products with links to site is also a key prediction – it's another opportunity to rake in that affiliate link dollar, especially for the influencers who are putting the effort in now to build followings and increase visibility. The creative functionality is also great, but they’ll have to bring in more USPs in order to win over Gen-Z.