ByteDance Strikes Gold with Lemon8: Succeeding with the China Playbook.

The app strikes a great resemblance to Xiaohongshu, a Chinese social media platform with 260M MAUs

Lemon8 is a new app created by ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok. It’s a fast-paced, simple app designed for making short videos with friends. Within minutes of its release, it had surpassed TikTok as America’s top-selling app in both the iPhone and Android stores. The debate over whether or not to ban TikTok has taken on a new urgency given Lemon8’s sudden popularity, but for now it appears that ByteDance’s newest product is proving too successful for anyone to stop.

As media platforms like Vine and TikTok continue to dominate the short video sharing landscape, Lemon8 has emerged as a strong competitor. Like TikTok, Lemon8 is heavily focused on content recommendation – effectively allowing users to “suggest” videos they think others will enjoy. Indeed, Lemon8’s sudden rise is reminiscent of TikTok’s early-day growth. At the time Vine had already pioneered short video sharing in the U.S., but TikTok took the media format to the next level through its content recommendation algorithms, a system that had proven enormously successful in China for its sister app, Douyin.

Copy-from-China often results in a better user experience as the app developers are more familiar with the Western mobile market. However, Lemon8 is an instance of copy-from-China that has gone too far, resulting in an app that is little more than a replica of popular apps from other countries.

In spite of being home to a large number of software engineers, China has not managed to build equivalent giants like Google, Facebook or Apple. However, this may starting changing as homegrown talent becomes more sophisticated and come up with increasingly novel services that don’t yet exist abroad. Some prominent examples include the ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing and rival operating system BlueStack which is aimed at making it easier for businesses to deploy traditional desktop applications on servers hosted in the cloud.

Given that Lemon8 and Xiaohongshu are both photo-heavy platforms, it makes sense that they would have similar user bases. Both platforms cater to Chinese teenagers and young adults who want to learn life hacks from their peers. Given the popularity of Xiaohongshu in China, it likely won’t be long before Lemon8 has acquired a similarly large following.

ByteDance is hoping that the success of TikTok, which was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion back in August, can be replicated with its own version of the app known as ByteDance World. The company is mirroring what TikTok has done by learning from Douyin’s model back home. ByteDance World allows users to upload videos and share them with their friends.

The Little Red Playbook

The city of Guangzhou is a growing metropolitan area in southern China. It was designated a national capital in 1998 and has since become an important transportation hub

Xiaohongshu is a popular Chinese shopping guide that has focused on compiling practical information for shoppers. Posts are arranged in a Pinterest-like grid with rankings partly based on the number of “saves” they receive. Unlike Instagram, where the most glamorous photos often prevail, Xiaohongshu images are instead used to contextualize user notes. For example, one post may include a COVID-19 PCR result needed to board a flight to China. Because there is little competition among users, Xiaohongshu offers an intimate look at what goes into buying and organizing imports from China.

Xiaohongshu is unique in that it values the discovery of long-tail content over professionally made influencer posts. This encourages users to explore a variety of topics, rather than just following well-known and reputable people. When on Xiaohongshu, users are experienc

Xiaohongshu is one of China’s most popular social media platforms and it has a large user base. The company said that 69 million of its 260 million MAUs are content creators, which indicates that this type of user is important to the platform. Additionally, more than 70% of Xiaohongshu’s users are female and born after 1990. This indicates that the platform caters to a demographic that is increasingly important in today’s society. Despite declines in its valuation last year as China’s tech crackdown dampened investor confidence, Xiaohongshu remains a major player in China’s social media sector.

Lemon8 is a new zhongcao culture app that has gained traction among young people in the U.S. and abroad through influencer endorsement and flashy advertisements. While it’s too early to say if the app can successfully bring zhongcao culture to a larger audience, its potential is clear based on the enthusiastic response from its users thus far.

Some would say that Lemon8’s willingness to pony up large payouts to influencers is a sign of the platform’s inauthenticity. While other social media platforms, such as Douyin, have a reputation for paying their influential users sporadically and without much authenticity, Lemon8 has been seen more as a legitimate platform with larger subsidies. This might be what differentiates it from Xiaohongshu, which has rarely shelled out large subsidies to influencers.

Even as digital platforms like Douyin and Huiyo continue to grow in both countries, digital advertising remains a key revenue driver for many of them. This is likely due to the fact that most people in developed countries are increasingly comfortable using devices like smartphones and laptops in public, which makes it easier for platforms to track users across devices and measure ad effectiveness. Affiliates can also earn a share of these revenues by placing ads on these apps or through other marketing activities (like paid social media posts).

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Max Chen

Max Chen is an AI expert and journalist with a focus on the ethical and societal implications of emerging technologies. He has a background in computer science and is known for his clear and concise writing on complex technical topics. He has also written extensively on the potential risks and benefits of AI, and is a frequent speaker on the subject at industry conferences and events.

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