5 Things to Know About Lemon8

By Ellen Corrigan

Another day, another hot new app set to take over the world - or so online chat would have you believe. ‘Lemon8’ is the latest social site promising a space for users to share all manners of creative content and has recently experienced a phenomenal surge in US downloads. Poised as an Instagram competitor, Lemon8 mimics a similar visual interface but is notably less trend-focused - think evergreen lifestyle content, recipes, reviews, tutorials, etc. While the app isn’t currently available to download in Ireland, climbing user-figures indicate that the platform might just wash up on Irish shores soon. Here at Thinkhouse, we’ve gathered a bite-sized breakdown of everything you need to know about Lemon8:

1. Hailed as a ‘lifestyle community’ app, Lemon8 describes itself as a content sharing platform targeted at younger audiences. The app was first launched globally in 2020 to rival Meta-owned Instagram, but has just now reached the top 10 rankings across all U.S. categories in Apple’s App Store.The main feed features a ‘Following’ section that lets users look at content from creators they follow, as well as a ‘For You’ section that recommends other posts. It currently categorises content by fashion, beauty, food, wellness, travel, and home. Lemon8’s App Store description declares: “Here is where you can discover beautiful, authentic, and diverse content. It is THE destination for sharing and exploring.”

2. Lemon8 is owned by Chinese internet technology company ByteDance, who also own TikTok. It’s a direct competitor of a popular Eastern app called Xiaohongshu, or ‘Little Red Book’ in English. As Little Red Book holds a large share of China's social networking and e-commerce market and boasts a 260 million active monthly user count, Lemon8 hopes to replicate this success in the West.

3. Lemon8 is designed to feel super user-friendly. The platform offers various in-app templates, filters, fonts, and stickers to make user photos fit their own aesthetic. Users, or ‘Zesties’, can take simple photos and turn them into curated social media posts with the editing tools within Lemon8 itself. Last year, Lemon8 provided budding creators with a list of Do's and Don'ts to kick-start their profile. One of their suggestions is to create collage-style posts with "aesthetic fonts and design elements." They recommend against creating generic-looking posts resembling ads or using lengthy, essay-like captions.

4. The #lemon8 hashtag currently has over 2.4 billion views on TikTok, with various creators declaring “it’s like Pinterest and Instagram came together and had a baby” and “if you haven’t heard of it, I recommend you run over to the App Store and download it!” . Most posts have #Lemon8partner at the end of the caption, signalling that Lemon8 has paid creators to post on the app to fabricate the platform's popularity. A recent report from The New York Times confirmed that influencers are in fact being paid by Lemon8 to share content on the app, provided they follow post guidelines. These include making 10 posts in a month with captions of at least 150 words, and a carousel of between three and 10 photos.

5. The same New York Times report stated that ByteDance is deploying a similar algorithm on Lemon8 as on TikTok. This means that interacting with Lemon8's ‘For You’ page and liking/ignoring specific posts will help train your account's algorithm. In the wake of TikTok’s national security concerns, ByteDance’s General Counsel Erich Anderson recently stated: “We’re obviously going to do our best with the Lemon8 app to comply with U.S. law and to make sure we do the right thing here. But I think we’ve got a long way to go with that application — it’s pretty much a startup phase.” The company is now actively seeking job applicants for a number of U.S.-based roles, aimed at growing the platform’s partnerships with influencers on beauty, food, health and other topics.

While it still remains to be seen whether Lemon8 will emerge as a global social media giant or simply a blip on our digital radar, the general public are polarised. As some users flock to the site filled with FOMO, others are sceptical of the TikTok community’s sudden interest in the app as well as the endless 5-star App Store reviews. Furthermore, the app’s lack of presence within the EU may be connected to stricter data regulations and its ties to TikTok. Social media consultant Rachel Karten recently tweeted Overall consensus is Lemon8 is owned by ByteDance so it likely won’t be the ‘new TikTok’ if TikTok gets banned. It’d probably be wrapped up in that drama too.” Is Lemon8 a hit or a miss? We’re waiting with bated breath and open minds.