What is Lemon8? Meet ByteDance’s new Instagram + Pinterest competitor quietly surging in the App Store.
TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has been pushing its Instagram-like app in the US. Lemon8 is a video and photo-sharing social media platform focusing on users’ interest in food, beauty, travel, and wellness.
Lemon8 isn’t new but has recently been released in the US. The app is number one in the App Store under lifestyle apps, number 10 Overall app, and number nine on the Top Apps chart, excluding games — a significant leap for a little-known app that previously never reached the Top 200 in the US, according to TechCrunch.
Such a rapid leap in the rankings among free apps in the US — ahead of Facebook, Gmail, YouTube, and WhatsApp — implies a recent and significant user acquisition push from the platform’s publisher.
Lemon8 launched globally in March 2020 but was released quietly onto the US App Store, perhaps for testing purposes. Within the last few days, it seems to have “officially” launched in the US, accompanied by what analysts surmise to be a sizable spend on paid discovery or app install ads.
Another avenue ByteDance seems to have utilized to drive interest is social media influencers on TikTok. Multiple TikTok influencers have begun pushing the app, each describing it the same way: It’s as if Instagram and Pinterest had a baby.
Given this description echoing throughout TikTok, it’s likely ByteDance paid some social media influencers to advertise Lemon8 to drive US downloads. Concerningly, many new videos on TikTok within the last 24 hours that promote Lemon8 are incredibly positive and follow much of one another’s vocabulary — yet none of these videos are labeled or disclosed as sponsored content.
While the timing for Lemon8’s push coincides with concerns that US lawmakers might issue a nationwide ban on TikTok, it seems unlikely that ByteDance would be pushing Lemon8 as a contingency plan. Restrictions on TikTok may include wide-ranging conditions on Chinese-based tech, including any app owned by companies like ByteDance.