ByteDance’s Lemon8 app flops in US after initial success

After soaring to the #2 spot on the US app store charts in April, ByteDance’s lifestyle-sharing app Lemon8 is now plummeting in popularity.

Since then, the app’s daily active users in the US have dropped off by nearly half from 11,930 to 6,360 in a clear signal that the initial hype surrounding the app is wearing off. The app soared into the top 10 downloaded apps on Apple’s App Store shortly after its launch in February while TikTok and ByteDance faced scrutiny from the US congress.

The app has been described as a combination of Pinterest and Instagram and bears a strong resemblance to China’s predominant lifestyle-sharing platform Xiaohongshu. Hoping to capitalise further on the global reach of TikTok, ByteDance crafted an “overseas Xiaohongshu” to fill the gap in the market and launched the app initially only in Japan in 2020.

To expedite Lemon8’s success in the US market, ByteDance launched paid content campaigns to attract influencers to the burgeoning platform. But US users are now complaining that the app is saturated with overly manicured content that doesn’t feel authentic. A communications consultant told Rest of World, “Lemon8 doesn’t feel like it’s set up for real conversations. If I was not a content creator, I wouldn’t know what to contribute and wouldn’t feel welcomed.” Users have also shared that the app’s algorithms do not perform well, often pushing irrelevant content, with religious content particularly prevalent.

ByteDance is still hoping the app can replicate TikTok’s success, appointing current TikTok CEO Shouzi Chew to a new leadership position overseeing the development Lemon8 in May.


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