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What brands need to know about Lemon8

A new social and media platform has just started its global expansion plan, and here’s why marketeers should pay attention.

Lemon8 is a lifestyle sharing and discovery app that combines key features you’d recognise from Pinterest, Instagram and TikTok all on one platform, organised into six content categories: fashion, beauty, food, wellness, travel and home. It’s a visual platform to go to to be inspired and to learn, where users share product reviews, user guides, tutorials and more. What is currently setting it apart is the superior creator tools built into the app – features which give their users more visual toys to play with. We’re talking cute fonts, stickers and editing tools that are much better than their rivals. It’s also a photo and video sharing app with a Pinterest-style grid layout, which bucks the trend of apps implementing full-screen vertical video layouts which has been on the rise since TikTok started rising in popularity.

screenshots of the lemon8 app on phones

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Nathalie Moruzzi, Wavemaker’s Global Platform Content Director, shares her initial impression of the latest social media platform to fight for our attention: It’s smart how the platform categorises your interest into buckets in the same way that a retail site would, drawing you into things you are more likely to consider for purchase vs leaving you to mindlessly scroll until the right thing chances into your feed.”

The app is owned by ByteDance, the same company which owns TikTok. It launched in South East Asia in 2020, and since February this year it has expanded into the US and Europe, with a huge global promotional push planned to continue throughout 2023.

Lemon8 is still establishing itself, but in the meantime, there’s a lot that brands can learn from its Chinese equivalent Xiaohongshu (RED), which is a similar lifestyle content sharing platform that is already well established in China, with 260 million monthly active users – a platform that Wavemaker in Asia has a proven track record of delivering success on.

Linna Zhao, Head of Thought Leadership at Wavemaker China, explains: “When users browse Xiaohongshu (RED), they can’t stop because the content is created by real consumers that carry helpful information for building a better life. Unlike TikTok, that in many cases, people browse for nothing, but on Xiaohongshu they’re met by ‘inspiration everywhere’.” 

How should brands use Lemon8?

A social platform’s popularity can be fleeting, but with a parent company like ByteDance and a blueprint borrowed from China’s Xiaohongshu, we see a lot of potential for Lemon8 to establish itself globally in the coming years and to have knock on effects on how social commerce evolves, and the dynamic between brands, creators and consumers.

Brands who jump on new platforms quickly can benefit from being early to the party, as we’ve seen with the success we’ve created for our clients on TikTok these last years, with this Oreo challenge being just one of our recent hashtag challenges to drive buzz for Mondelēz International. However, to understand and blend in with the user behaviour and culture of Lemon8, brands should approach with modesty and take a back seat role to the main drivers on the platforms: the creators.

Nathalie Moruzzi explains: “In terms of how brands show up, we’re seeing a shift in consumer behaviour with platform changes over the last couple of years. From following and connecting with brands through their owned channels to connecting with conversations around brands with their favourite creators. I think brands that will win in Lemon8 will consider a creator first approach (in the same way that brands win on TikTok), so this is a likely reason there isn’t an influx of brands into the platform already with their own brand pages.”

Is the lemon juice worth the squeeze?

Lemon8’s monthly active users are still low compared to the more established platforms in Europe and the US such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, but it can’t be written off. Our advice to brands is to use the app and follow its development. Wherever people create and share content related to your brand or industry, you’ll want your brand to feature and to feature in a good light. For now, making use of clever creator partnerships is the most effective way to have influence on this platform. Wavemaker, as part of WPP, work closely with influencer agency INCA to set our clients up with strategic and purposeful collaborations with creators on all social and commerce platforms, including Lemon8.

Amanda Khoo, Associate Director of Marketing, Wavemaker Asia-Pacific, concludes: “As businesses await visible, measured successes that will justify investments to their CMOs, or take strategic steps to optimise their first mover advantages, the app shows promising potential to have a noteworthy presence in the industry. Regardless, once its presence is established, it should not be long before popular brands and influencers start flocking over, and the ripple effect should follow very quickly.”

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