TikTok parent company ByteDance appears to hope lightning can strike twice in the U.S. market with its Lemon8 app.
Introduced in Japan in 2020, Lemon8 launched in the U.S. this past February — around the same time legislative efforts to restrict TikTok ramped up — and within one month, it briefly ranked among the top 10 most downloaded apps on the U.S. App Store.
On the app, users can post and view beauty, fashion and lifestyle content — namely in the form of static photos, though video-sharing is an option as well — and, like TikTok, the app’s central feature is its “For You” page, which features content tailored to a user’s interests.
Beauty and wellness are among Lemon8’s most prominent content categories, and while the in-app experience is similar in some respects to TikTok — through which ByteDance is heavily promoting Lemon8 — its look and function is more akin to a Pinterest archetype.
Though ByteDance declined to comment on the size or composition of Lemon8’s user base, data from Apptopia indicates the platform, said by ByteDance to still be in beta testing, has garnered more than 17 million downloads globally since its 2020 debut.
A swipe through the “Beauty” tab depicts a wide range of posts: There are the breakdowns of users’ bedtime ingestible lineups, slideshows outlining TJ Maxx beauty aisle go-to’s, dupe roundups and more than a few “beauty tips I wish I had known sooner” compilations.
As far as what defines “success” on the platform — this is still unclear, perhaps even to Lemon8 itself.
Engagement remains nascent — its #Beauty hashtag counts just over 19.1 million total views, with the hashtag’s most viral posts garnering fewer than 10,000 likes each. BeautyTok heavyweights like Alix Earle and Xandra Pohl don’t appear to have taken to the platform yet; rather, a conversational community of nano- and microinfluencers comprise much of Lemon8’s active user base.
Brand pages, notably, are absent (no sign of E.l.f. Beauty yet).
Said a spokesperson for ByteDance: “Lemon8 is creating a community where people discover and share content related to beauty, fashion, travel, in a more authentic and diverse environment. By providing a place to share content and connect with others with similar interests, we see Lemon8 as a platform to inspire creativity and share ideas to benefit everyone in our community.”
Marwa Islam, who creates short-form eye makeup tutorials for a TikTok audience of just over 51,000, joined Lemon8 in April and has since shared 16 posts; one of them being her usual video tutorial, and the others, carousel posts of certain aspects of her beauty routine, with explanatory captions breaking down individual product pros and cons.
“I definitely think [Lemon8] has the chance of becoming a major platform; nobody expected TikTok to get big, but it did,” said Islam, alluding to users’ initial hesitation to embrace TikTok in the aftermath of its 2018 consolidation with Musical.ly. “[Lemon8’s] versatility makes it convenient to make amazing posts.”
Unlike on TikTok, where commenting under a video is more of a means to engage with other viewers than with the original poster, Lemon8 comment sections are intimate, often fostering back-and-forth between a poster and viewer.
The #CharlotteTilbury hashtag has 581,000 views on Lemon8, and is frequently mentioned alongside E.l.f., dupe discourse and “Clean Girl Makeup” — a minimal makeup aesthetic which originated last year on TikTok, but evidently has legs across the ByteDance universe.
Other frequently mentioned beauty brands on the platform include Dior Beauty, which has 2 million hashtag views; Laneige, with 1.6 million hashtag views, and Glow Recipe, which counts 258,300 views.