While US senators debate whether or not to ban its main app, TikTok owner ByteDance is already working on building its American presence, with its Instagram-like Lemon8 app now rising up the App Store charts.
Looks familiar right?
Lemon8, which is described as ‘a place for young creatives to share a diversity of content’, kind of looks like a cross between Instagram and Pinterest, with a focus on products, and highlighting content from specific product categories, including fashion, makeup, food, and travel.
The app has actually been available since 2020, and has been somewhat popular in Asian nations. But now, it’s on the rise in the US as well, with Lemon8 reaching the top 10 for overall app downloads over the last week.
Which, as TechCrunch notes, is unusual:
“This is a dramatic move for the little-known app and one that points to paid user acquisition efforts powering this surge. Prior to yesterday, the Lemon8 app had never before ranked in the Top 200 Overall Charts in the U.S.”
It seems, then, that ByteDance is looking to boost Lemon8 in the American market – which could be an ill-timed move on its part.
But then again, maybe they want to get in now before a possible TikTok ban, in order to have a back-up connection into the region. You would assume, at some stage, the Lemon8 would also be included within the ban talks (if it’s not already), but maybe, by having a secondary platform that’s popular with US users, that could cushion the blow of a possible TikTok ban in some way.
Or it could amplify concerns about the Chinese company’s growing presence in the region. Either way, ByteDance is clearly pushing to grow the app, which could eventually see it become a bigger consideration.
As Insider reported last month, ByteDance has actually been paying creators to post to Lemon8, as part of a broader plan to grow the platform.
“ByteDance has been paying creators in the UK to post on the app in recent weeks, three influencers told Insider. One creator who had posted on the app shared documentation showing they were getting paid to post on the platform, while two others shared emails they received from Lemon8 outlining the payment structure.”
Those creators have formed at least part of this new promotional push, with many sharing positive reviews of the app to TikTok, leading to more downloads of the app.
It’s possible, within this context, that Lemon8 could also form part of ByteDance’s plan to get creators paid, which has proven problematic on TikTok itself, due to the complications of adding ads into short video clips.
Maybe, through a Pinterest-style format, Lemon8 could become a showcase of influencer-recommended products, for which those influencers could get paid a commission on sales generated by their posts.
It seems like a logical addition in this respect – but as noted, it could be ill-timed once regulators get wind of its growing presence.
Either way, it’s interesting to note this latest push on the app, and how ByteDance is looking to use its US market presence to grow another platform.
Could Lemon8 become a new platform for marketers to consider? Given the reach and influence of TikTok, that’s definitely a possibility, and it’ll be interesting to see how the app grows in the coming months – if it avoids restrictions.