How the Photo-First Social App Lemon8 is Redefining Social Commerce
There’s a palpable shift unfolding in the world of social media as the lines between platforms and e-commerce increasingly blend and blur. It's a trend we've all been noticing — even if we haven’t realized it yet. Meta, for one, has made several attempts to tap into this realm by integrating shopping features into Instagram, although it has recently made the decision to shift its strategy to prioritize other areas of focus. ByteDance, on the other hand, has been experimenting with its own e-commerce strategies, initially dipping its toes into the space by venturing into TikTok Commerce. But now, it has fully immersed itself, launching an entirely separate app designed with e-commerce at its core: Lemon8.
The innovative video- and photo-based social media platform intended to share and celebrate food, fashion, health, beauty and travel, among other things, is gaining momentum at a rapid pace. But as its popularity surges, the burning question arises: Exactly how will Lemon8 fuel social commerce?
Lemon8: A Primer
With more than 17 million U.S. users eagerly downloading the app since February, Lemon8 has seen the same sort of sudden rise in popularity that its sister platform TikTok experienced a few years back. While people have drawn comparisons between Lemon8 and Pinterest, Lemon8 is distinct in its own right. Pinterest is geared at providing inspiration, whereas Lemon8 aligns itself more with the creator-centered vibes of Instagram and TikTok, capturing that familiar atmosphere that resonates with a broader range of creators.
Could Lemon8 Become the Premier Social Platform for Online Shopping?
Yes. In short, Lemon8 could very well establish itself as the ultimate "e-commerce app." Image and video sharing will always be part of its identity, just as TikTok is not just a social platform but has become a search platform in its own right. Now, ByteDance is leveraging this insight and wisely embracing Lemon8’s dual nature. It wants you to think of Lemon8 as a one-stop-shop where users (or perhaps we should say, consumers) can effortlessly search for products and swiftly click to purchase. This strategic move seamlessly blends the social aspect with effortless shopping, potentially revolutionizing online commerce as we’ve come to know it.
When it comes to monetization and making a splash in the highly competitive social media landscape, strategy is crucial to success. In the case of Lemon8, key tactics involve implementing a bespoke advertising model — a tried-and-true revenue stream for virtually all platforms. Beyond that, ByteDance is keeping its options open and exploring innovative approaches to ensure the platform thrives financially. What is clear is that Lemon8 is letting creators add extra information to their posts so that they can tag not only the brand name, but also include product features, links and show details like price, making it possible to interact with the content in a whole new way.
Lemon8 has also established a creator affiliate program giving back money to creators and simultaneously empowering and incentivizing them to create exceptional content. It also allows brands to list their stores on the platform, which could theoretically open up new revenue streams through transaction fees. And who knows, Lemon8 might also introduce premium or paid models down the line.
Lemon8's primary emphasis on influencer marketing — as opposed to content creation as is the case with TikTok — serves as further indication that it’s destined to disrupt e-commerce. But even then, it all boils down to balance. ByteDance must intentionally strike that perfect balance between a seamless user experience and sustainable monetization.
In the ever-evolving landscape of brand prominence, maintaining presence across every platform has seemingly become the norm. Therefore, it’s up to the brand to figure out how to ace the strategy for each and ideally reach a different audience at every turn.
Time will tell whether users readily embrace Lemon8, welcoming its fusion of influencer marketing and online shopping to ultimately shift their behaviors. Which means now is the time to determine your priority platforms as a brand. Do you continue to emphasize TikTok and Instagram, or should you shift gears to add Lemon8 into your mix? And even then, how should budgets best be allocated?
If you’re looking for a definitive answer, I can’t give you one. But what I can say is this: Meet your customers not only where they are today, but where they’ll be tomorrow.
Collaboration, Collaboration, Collaboration
I can't stress this enough, particularly when it comes to creator-centric platforms like Lemon8: collaboration is absolutely crucial. It's the “secret sauce” which will distinguish one brand from another. Take the time now to recognize that creators bring new levels of creativity and engagement to the table. Marketers should tap into their innate abilities to captivate audiences, spark conversations, and generate content that resonates. And that is how you drive sales — through engagement. Influencers are ambassadors and should be embraced as such. Nurture those relationships and keep them front and center.
Ben Jeffries is the CEO of Influencer, a global influencer marketing solution, focused on providing global advertisers with the ability to succeed on social media.
Ben Jeffries is the CEO of Influencer, a global influencer marketing solution, focused on providing global advertisers with the ability to succeed on social media. Influencer’s mission is to build meaningful relationships between creators and brands, whilst making advertising effective, but more importantly inclusive. Influencer works with a number of global brands such as P&G, offering guaranteed results by combining strategic creativity, insights and technology. Ben is an award-winning entrepreneur, with awards from Forbes 30 Under 30 to BMW Entrepreneur of the Year, and has previously spoken at global events such as Cannes Lions, Web Summit, Facebook, TikTok, Advertising Week and Social Media Week, plus many more.