If it seems like many creators on TikTok are suddenly deeply invested in citrus, that’s because they are. Well, not the actual fruit, but a new social media app called Lemon8.
Lemon8 has taken TikTok by storm over the last month — as of publishing, the hashtag #lemon8 has accumulated 2.4 billion views. It’s as if everyone on the platform has something to say about Lemon8, so much so that some are wondering if there’s a conspiracy to promote the app on TikTok, while TikTok itself is facing a potential ban in the U.S.
Not only that, but Lemon8 also rose into top 10 of the Apple App Store’s U.S. Top Charts in late March, drawing media attention and users. But what is the app all about? And why has so many become aware of it recently?
Below, we break down what you need to know about Lemon8, and a few reasons why it’s all over your feed these days — including its relation to TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance.
What is Lemon8?
Lemon8 is a photo and video-sharing app that’s widely described as a hybrid of Instagram and Pinterest, though it calls itself a “lifestyle community app.”
The app focuses on topics such as beauty, fashion, food, and travel, and allows users to explore content — from product recommendations to “get ready with me” videos — through curated feeds based on these categories. It also has a “For You” section and a “Following” feed. According to marketing materials obtained by The New York Times, Lemon8 uses “the same recommendation engine” as TikTok’s.
Unlike on TikTok and most other social media platforms, content on Lemon8 has more of an editorial, magazine-like aesthetic. Guidelines from Lemon8 for some of its early creators reveal that the platform offers “stickers and templates” that creators should use to achieve this kind of aesthetically pleasing content.
Who owns Lemon8?
ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, owns Lemon8.
While the app became available to download on iOS and Android in 2020 and got some traction in countries like Japan and Thailand, it’s only started to receive attention stateside since this February, when Insider reported about the app’s quiet entry into the U.S. Some are wondering if Lemon8 is ByteDance’s backup plan in case TikTok gets banned in the country.
What are creators saying about Lemon8?
Lemon8 has been a hot topic among creators lately, with many taking to TikTok to show off the content they’re creating on the new app. One thing most creators seem to agree on is that the app resembles Instagram and Pinterest, as if the two platforms “had a baby.”
Lemon8 feeds do look a lot like Pinterest boards, in that they are curated for you based on topics you’re interested in. And much like Instagram, there’s an Explore tab broken down by various categories like Beauty and Food. Open a post and you’ll get a screen that looks similar to Instagram, too, with captions, hashtags, and comments.
What’s more, other creators like @melbellles have pointed out that Lemon8 has Canva-like design capabilities. Users can add text and stickers to their images to create eye-catching posts. There’s also a built-in cutout tool within the app for removing the background of your images.
Canva is a free design tool that offers ready-made templates to empower anyone to create great designs. So if Lemon8 is replicating some of its features, it might have an edge against platforms like Pinterest and Instagram by allowing creators to create slick content in-app, without relying on other software.
On TikTok, many are praising Lemon8 for combining some of the best aspects and features of popular social media apps, and are encouraging viewers to sign up for it. As creator @her.messy.bun puts it, the app is like “Pinterest-meets-early stage Instagram-meets-the best parts of TikTok.”
Is ByteDance paying creators to post on Lemon8?
According to reports by Insider and The New York Times, Lemon8 is paying creators to post on the platform to help grow its presence in the U.S. and U.K.
Three influencers who spoke with Insider revealed that they’d been incentivized to create content for Lemon8. One of them had documents proving they’d been paid, while the others sent in emails showing the company’s payment structure.
When Lemon8 became the No. 10 overall app on the U.S. App Store in late March, TechCrunch also did a little digging. Using information from app analytics company data.ai, TechCrunch reported that the app’s sudden growth suggests an aggressive paid user acquisition effort. That means Lemon8 might not just be paying creators to post on its platform, it might be paying for users, too.
What does that mean for creators? For one, the internet’s sudden obsession with this new app may not be entirely organic. While there’s no evidence that TikTokers are being paid to promote Lemon8, it’s a strange coincidence that the app’s popularity seemingly grew overnight, at a time when TikTok is at risk of being banned in the U.S.
But hey, if you’re lucky, maybe ByteDance will approach you to post on Lemon8. That’s not such a bad thing.
Should you start posting on Lemon8?
Even though ByteDance seems to be artificially accelerating the app’s growth, it’s probably not a bad idea to get in on the action yourself and sign up for Lemon8. Here are a few reasons why.
Being one of the first to post on a new app could potentially give you an advantage as a creator. Do it right and it could pay off massively. Now, that doesn’t mean that every new app is destined for greatness. For example, BeReal was huge last year, but not so much now. Still, you should explore your options, and Lemon8 could be a strong contender.
Lemon8 is trending at the moment, and doing that thing everyone’s talking about can give you a huge boost if you do it right. And since a lot of TikTokers are just broadly talking about the app right now without going into specifics, you could really benefit from going deep on how you’re creating content for this new platform.
As a creator, you’re probably already sharing your content on multiple platforms. So what’s one more? By spending a little bit of time familiarizing yourself with this new app, you can get really good at spinning out Lemon8 content — and figuring out its secrets before anyone else.
That said, some creators have told Insider that it takes significantly more time to post on Lemon8 than on other platforms, likely due to the sleek, editorial aesthetic. So be mindful of that.
So, is Lemon8 the next TikTok?
Time will tell whether Lemon8 will be the next big thing for content creators. But whether ByteDance is just inflating a potential life raft or genuinely building something that can stand on its own, there’s little risk in creating content ob this burgeoning platform. So consider signing up and learning the ropes, and you just might emerge as one of Lemon8’s biggest creators.
Follow The Leap on TikTok and Instagram for more creator economy news. We also make a newsletter.