What is lemon8? A deep dive into bytedance’s new app

The social media app without the social aspect 

By Nana Akosua Frimpong

Friday, 28th of April 2023

If you’re obsessed with TikTok and familiar with its parent company, Bytedance, then you’ll undoubtedly have heard about Lemon8.

Considered to be a combination of Pinterest and Instagram, the sister app of TikTok may seem like just another social media app – but without the social aspect.

The app is currently growing steadily in the US and has even climbed into the top 10 on America’s app stores. Initially launched in 2020 in Japan, Lemon8 looks to rival China’s social app Xiaohongshu (which means Little Red Book) with its photo-heavy layout and peer-to-peer reviews. 

With TikTok facing a ban in the US over data privacy concerns, Bytedance seems to be undeterred – and instead is focused on its new app.

But what is Lemon8?

Classed as a cross between Pinterest, Instagram and Canva with its editing tools and long-form captions, it is reminiscent of a blogging page. It has close ties to TikTok with a similar algorithm, but Lemon8 looks to stand out against its competitors. 

Combining the best aspect of the 2016 era of Instagram with product focus and categories seen on Pinterest, Lemon8 is built for content curation. 

TI @ladmeetsmakeup

The top trending topics on the app so far are fashion, beauty, food, travel, wellness, fitness and pets. Under each category are suggestions and recommendation content from get-ready-with-me styles of video to aesthetically pleasing content.

Nail inspiration, outfit details, food recipes and workout routines also seem to dominate the app. Creators post slideshows of their content including the name of the products used as text on the image. On fashion posts, creators are seen tagging their outfits with where they bought specific items and food creators usually post a video of them making their dish or share a slideshow of the several meals with the recipe in the caption. 

Lemon8’s user interface is perfect for those who enjoyed the pleasing and curated aesthetics of Instagram but hated the algorithm style of TikTok. Much like all other social platforms, you are able to scroll through video and photo content on the app. It even has a For You Page. 

The new platform has grown in popularity since its soft launch in the US, where creators were relied upon to help pull audiences over to Lemon8. A report in the New York Times confirmed that micro-influencers were paid to start posting on the app with specific guidelines on how and what to post, and to promote the app using #Lemon8partner.

Since its stealth launch in February, it would seem the paid strategy behind Lemon8 has worked well as more and more creators are joining the app. 

@kyyahabdul Lemon8 would face the SAME FATE as TikTok if this Restrict bill were to pass. Let’s continue to educate ourselves and focus out energies on contacting these reps! #lemon8 #tiktokban ♬ original sound - Kyyah Abdul

Lemon8 seemingly attracts creators with smaller followings on other platforms, such as TI (also known by his pseudonym ladmeetsmakeup). Interestingly, it would appear that creators with millions of followers on TikTok and Instagram have yet to migrate, but it’s more a question of when. 

With the official launch in May, we look forward to seeing the app grow to discover new creators alike.

Is Lemon8 better than TikTok? 

Well, like most social media platforms, Lemon8 allows users to create content that will serve audiences differently, but Lemon8 seems to lean towards influencer marketing more than TikTok.

Lemon8 is recognised as a product placement platform, where brands can work with creators to promote their products to sell a specific lifestyle aesthetic to their audience. 

Creators on TikTok, however, are typically known for their niche content that engages with a specific audience. And with video content, creators on TikTok are able to convince their audience that their content is natural. 


On Lemon8, though, there are a large number of creators who create aesthetically and perfectly curated content.

As the popularity of Lemon8 increases, some creators already want users on the platform to be authentic with their followers. Creator Issac Rochell posted: “Can we all agree to NOT ruin this app? By making it too aesthetic”. His post resonated with a lot of users, with one commenting: “I love a good aesthetic, but it sucks the fun out of social media”. 

As the app grows, will it disassociate itself from the perfectionist nature that we all know social media to have? 

The overarching question that many have been asking is: Is Lemon8 worth the investment?

For smaller creators, it is a great opportunity for them to establish themselves on a new platform. Creator Natasha Huggins is one of many creators on the platform who has seen a big growth in followers since joining. 

It may also be an opportunity for small business owners to further expand their reach. 

Monetisation on the app is currently unclear and marketers could be hesitant to invest in Lemon8 due to its parent company, ByteDance, and its volatile relationship with the US government. TikTok creator Kyyah Abdul, for example, raises a valid point that Lemon8 might face a similar fate to TikTok once it surpasses over a million users. 

Until then, Lemon8 is in its infancy stage with a promise of being a prominent contender in the social media market. With its official launch in May, The FIFTH is in exploratory mode: we are keeping a pulse on anyone of influence and learning more about the platform, and waiting to see what happens next.