TikTok maker ByteDance recently released a new social app to Western audiences, called Lemon8. This video and photo-sharing app seems to be trying to attract the Instagram audience with visual lifestyle content.
The release of this app comes alongside the recent congressional hearing of TikTok in the US, as lawmakers decide whether to ban the application. ByteDance is undeterred, it seems, and is clearly taking action to further its growth in the US.
How Does Lemon8 Work?
Lemon8 is essentially a cross between TikTok and Instagram with a bit of Pinterest as well. It has videos, as well as still images. The aesthetic is colorful and energetic, and it has a For You feed as well as a Following feed. Unlike TikTok’s vertical scrolling videos, Lemon8’s feed is a lot more similar to Instagram’s Explore page, showing you a grid of content.
What Kind of Content is on Lemon8?
While theoretically nearly any type of content could be posted to Lemon8, in the early days it is primarily focused on health and beauty, seemingly trying to attract a young female audience. When you first sign up, you are asked for your birthday and gender identity, and then to choose from a list of interests:
On your For You page, you can see all content, or filter by the above categories. Once you open a photo, the interface feels very similar to Instagram. Meanwhile, videos play fullscreen, much like TikTok. While TikTok encourages users to scroll through content endlessly, Lemon8 actually makes you go back to the home page – trying to swipe up or down on a post does nothing.
Currently, many posts are tagged #Lemon8partner, indicating that Lemon8 is paying creators and micro-influencers to promote the app. It doesn’t look like many major influencers have joined yet, but it’s only a matter of time. The app certainly has the potential to be huge for influencers, as it is already being used to promote and share lifestyle products. So at least for now, Lemon8 feels more like a shopping discovery app, while TikTok has a wider variety of content that includes comedy and relatable posts as well as lifestyle videos.
What is Heliophilia Pte. Ltd.?
When you go to the app store, you’ll see that while TikTok is published by TikTok Pte. Ltd., Lemon8 is published by Heliophilia Pte. Ltd. First of all “Pte. Ltd.” is a business designation in Singapore which means it is a Private Limited company, similar to something like an LLC. Heliophilia shares an address with ByteDance and TikTok, so it’s clear that this is just another sub-brand. ByteDance general counsel Erich Andersen also confirmed Lemon8 is from ByteDance in an interview with The Associated Press. It’s possible the move was purely for branding, but it’s also possible that the name was chosen to avoid any negative connotations with the TikTok name from potential users.
Regardless, the association with ByteDance and TikTok makes Lemon8’s future uncertain. It’s no wonder that influencers and marketers haven’t flocked to it yet, as there is no guarantee that the app will still be around in the West if US lawmakers take action.