Why Brands Should Embrace the Two Star Review

By Ameera Masud, Associate Director, Social Strategy, Digitas

In today’s hyper-saturated market, where everyone is selling something, the only thing tipping the scales from consumer skepticism to consumer trust is the comment section. Forget content, forget creators, forget brands—it’s all about community validation. These are the unfiltered comments, shares, honest 2-star reviews, and non-sponsored hot takes — and they’re reshaping the way consumers buy. To show up with a community lens, brands need to dig deeper than identifying influencers to ambassador — they need to activate them inside out.

I myself am an internet rat by night and social strategist by day. I’ve seen my own platform behaviors shift dramatically from search habits to my own personal codification of community — IRL and online.

By 2025, community proof points will take precedence in the purchaser pathway — becoming the most valued search result. In other words, real honest validation will become the key to purchase, awareness, and consideration all at once. And it’s already happening.


Trends like deinfluencing (1.4B views) urging consumers not to buy goods based on lack of value or necessity often appear as a gut check from your close friend, have gained popularity on TikTok in the last 2 years. This movement is two-way, emphasizing community discourse and debate, and is responsive to broader marketing strategies and seasonal shopping trends.

Deinfluencing is accessible, it’s something that any creator can participate in — no PR package or expensive purchase necessary. And it’s given birth to more content selling formulas like ‘dupe culture’ that prioritize function over flash.

Tactics like deinfluencing showcase the evolution of commerce-fueled content on the platform and its waning ability to drive purchase. But more importantly consumers are craving more power in their decision making and trusted sources while they consider.


Another sign community strategies will dominate the industry is that the power dynamics between consumer, brand, and creator have dramatically shifted.

Platforms like TikTok have further shifted the power dynamic, making consumers a significant source of truth. The comment sections, where likes often exceed those on the actual posts, have become a stage and a search engine for authentic content. They serve as an intersection for what’s next to consume, reflecting the fragmented platform to platform mindset we all carry.

The comment section is its own content format. This real estate multitasks: entertaining, educating, and aiding users in perceiving, validating, and navigating trends. But most importantly, comments amplify intimacy when users are in discovery mode, fostering community.

The comments are an anchor to community on the platform, much like a social bodega of sorts, serving as a collective space to get what you need in the feed AKA neighborhood. Sustenance. You can stop and chat (go deeper, divulge, discuss) or keep it moving (heart it, see it, go on). Either way you’ll leave with the essentials and a sense of familiarity. This feeling is heightened when you find YOUR bodega, your niche humor or cultural safe space.

TikTok is tapping into this insight goldmine. The platform is now displaying recent feedback pop-ups, such as the one above, to better understand user sentiments.


Community isn’t perfectly manicured comments or moments. It’s MESSY and that’s ok. Messiness feels so much closer to the truth in a world of sponsored EVERYTHING.

Healthy tension is instrumental to drive commerce and connection. We need a 1-star review to prove that the system is still an honest system. A sanitized, frictionless commerce experience fails to mirror real-life interactions and won’t address consumer skepticism (or curiosity).

Communities are flocking to platforms that offer space to analyze, debate, and gossip with a sense of anonymity and thrill. Platforms reward engagement therefore friction is what allows post reach. Friction is by nature less sanitized allowing for authenticity to override.

This environment of community proof points underscores the challenges of credibility in online reviews. Amazon’s recent use of AI to streamline ratings and reviews, along with its history of affiliate influencers, has eroded the social nature and credibility of its reviews. This example demonstrates the ease with which platforms can shift toward over sanitization even with innovation in mind.

As AI continues to be integrated into search functionalities on major social networks like Meta and smaller language models roll out to improve access, community is going to flex on us. Meaning if we lose credibility by seeding the AI assistant in the wrong place, we’ll see migration.

Communities in the most human terms migrate and find meaning in new homes (whether that’s the comment section) or a Reddit group, or a combination of IRL and digital spaces when they need validation.

Our hope as marketers is we can build addressable relationships with AI while also respecting the sanctity of the unfiltered consumer voice.

For instance, distinguishing between ‘verified accounts’ earning commission on ranked Amazon comments and determining if they’ve been included in AI-generated summarizations is challenging compared to identifying trustworthy unaffiliated comments on TikTok.

Big takeaway: To foster fandom, get out of the way and let community be the loudest voice in brand experiences. Build campaigns and products that demonstrate responsiveness to community feedback. Ultimately, ensure you’re providing a sense of thrill and urgency by tapping into the universal desire to feel seen and heard. It’s okay if this comes with a bit of mess or friction; it’s all social currency. What’s the point of relevance if you’re not real?