Beyond the Mainstream: How Letterboxd is Reshaping Film Culture & What Brands Can Learn from This

How Letterboxd is Reshaping Film Culture

Ben Ellis

Ben Ellis

Social Intelligence Researcher & Ambassador of YouScan

28 April 2024

As the media landscape evolves, niche social review platforms like Letterboxd, Goodreads, and have become invaluable for enthusiasts and casual consumers seeking to explore, share, and critique their passions about their favourite media – be it movies, books, or music.

These platforms represent a shift from traditional media consumption influenced by a few critics, to a more democratised, community-driven approach. By using social listening tools like YouScan, brands can gain insights into these communities, letting them inform authentic marketing strategies.

Letterboxd: A Case Study in Cultural Transformation

Letterboxd is a social network for film lovers to rate, review and curate movies into lists, catering to casual movie critics and fandom tastemakers. Letterboxd lets users share film reviews as actors and directors.

Culture critics are recruited from the platform's user community for interviews, red carpet coverage, and other content types. All of this is boosted through Letterboxd’s social media presence, particularly on TikTok (570K followers as of April 2024).

With over 13 million members worldwide, Letterboxd has truly become a cultural phenomenon in the past few years. Its recent growth has been phenomenal, with strong appeal to Millennials and Gen Z, since half of its users are under 35, with those aged 16-24 being the largest segment.

Whenever I hear stats like this, I always ask:

"what's the overlap between the platform's demographics and the demographics of the people talking about the platform online?"

I do this "due diligence research" around demographics because I understand what it means to talk about a brand online. Consumers who form a strong emotional attachment to a brand perceive it as an extension of their own identity, values, and aspirations.

Social intelligence tools with reliable audience analytics are crucial to determining if the demographics of a product or brand userbase are in alignment with the demographics and psychographics (e.g., interests, behaviours) of the people who see it as an extension of themselves online – to the point that they'll promote it and recommend it to their friends and followers (brand evangelism), and interact positively with the brand's accounts.

What can we say about Letterboxd?

Using YouScan Audience Insights, we see that their biggest user demographic (under 35s) are also their most vocal fans online, accounting for 92% of their brand mentions, followed by Gen X (6%) and over-60s (2%). The gender split tells us that the only generation where women lead the Letterboxd conversation is Gen Alpha (55% women, 45% men).

Gender distributionGender distribution
Gender distribution
Age distribution by gender

So, what do these users talk about?

Interestingly, only 24% of posts discuss current movie releases on the platform, and we do see a similar trend outside of the platform too, with movies like La La Land (2016) and The Hunger Games (2012) still appearing at the top of online conversation.


However, the conversation goes beyond just movies, and it embeds itself into trends, such as "build your top 4 movies based on your zodiac sign", "#LetterboxdFriday", and "share a screenshot of your #lastfourwatched from Letterboxd". These trends created by the Letterboxd community breathe new life into the platform, keeping Letterboxd relevant in online conversations related to movies.

Analysing these conversations, we see two main truths:

  • Letterboxd fans curate their cultural identity through personal content diaries. These fans love how they can organically uncover new taste communities on a platform that leaves discovery free of algorithms.

  • Millennials and Gen Zers believe social media offers better recommendations for TV shows and movies than streaming video services. Letterboxd is handy for these users who enjoy having their opinions visible and debatable without the interference of AI or algorithms.


The Broader Trend: Tastemaker Platforms and the Rise of the Casual Critics

The success of Letterboxd can be seen across other media types. Besides facilitating discovery and sharing, these platforms also create communities around shared interests, which provide brands with a blueprint for reaching niche audiences.


Book-focused platforms are seeing increased engagement as physical book sales continue to rise (thanks to trends like #BookTok), with users seeking personalised recommendations and ways to discover new titles based on their unique tastes:

  • Goodreads is one of the most popular book review platforms. It allows users to track their reading, rate books, and connect with other readers.

Feedback about GoodreadsFeedback about Goodreads
  • StoryGraph is a newer book-tracking and reviewing platform that focuses more on content and mood-based recommendations than just ratings.

Feedback about StoryGraphFeedback about StoryGraph
  • LibraryThing is another long-standing book cataloguing and recommendation site with an active literature fan community.


With the rise of music streaming services, these platforms help users curate their listening experiences, discover new artists aligned with their tastes, and connect with others who share similar musical preferences:

  • is a music tracking and recommendation service that builds personalised charts and suggestions based on a user's listening habits across various music players and streaming services.

  • is a relatively new social platform for music enthusiasts to share their favorite albums, tracks, and playlists and discover new music based on their taste profiles.

TV Shows

As the number of streaming services and content options continues to grow, these platforms help users stay organized, discover relevant shows based on their viewing history, and engage with fellow fans:

  • Trakt is a show and movie tracking platform that allows users to manage their watchlists, get personalized recommendations, and join fan communities around specific shows or genres.


With the increasing popularity of podcasts, these platforms aim to help users navigate the vast array of shows available and find content tailored to their specific interests:

  • Podchaser is a social platform for podcast enthusiasts to discover, review, and discuss their favourite shows and connect with podcast creators and other listeners.

No matter the type of media, the trend across these tastemaker platforms is the desire for personalised recommendations (particularly curated by humans), community engagement, and the ability to curate one's consumption of various media based on individual preferences and tastes. As content options continue to proliferate, these niche social review apps provide valuable curation and discovery tools for enthusiasts.


Expanding Brand Influence through Tastemaker Platforms

Letterboxd builds community and engagement through interviews, community screenings, an online magazine, and a podcast. It isn't just about films; it's about cultivating a broader cultural dialogue that resonates with a wide, dynamic audience.

It's important for brands to understand the allure of platforms like Letterboxd to establish deeper connections with their own target audiences.

Implications for Brands and Marketers

  • Understanding your passionate audience: insights from YouScan's Audience Analytics will help you tailor messaging, create content, and develop initiatives that resonate with niche groups;

  • Partnering with tastemakers: by analysing audience demographics and interests, YouScan can help you identify micro-influencers within passionate communities who hold genuine sway over their peers;

  • Democratising reviews: brands can encourage user-generated reviews for authentic, relatable content. They can feature curated reviews on social media to showcase their commitment to open and honest discourse;

  • Predicting trends: Letterboxd is a hotbed for emerging trends. By monitoring niche conversations, marketers can identify shifts in taste and potential new markets before they go mainstream;

  • Hyper-targeted campaigns: YouScan insights (particularly those highlighted by Insights Copilot) can reveal the passions, demographics, and even the language used by niche communities. Marketers can leverage this for campaigns that speak directly to passionate audiences with high resonance.

Insights CopilotInsights Copilot
YouScan's Insights Copilot highlights the most interesting insights about Letterboxd

Implications for Researchers and Analysts

  • Identify passionate communities: discover niche communities centred around specific interests and niches;

  • Understand their makeup: uncover demographics, interests, and nuanced online behaviours among users driving these communities;

  • Analyse sentiment and discover themes: assess overall sentiment toward these platforms and niche interests – which emotions are prevalent, and what are the dominant themes of discussion? YouScan goes beyond the standard positive vs negative sentiment analysis, letting you focus on various aspects of conversation instead. For instance, for Letterboxd, we see that while most conversations are positive, customer care is only the third most talked about aspect (8% of themed conversations), after positive conversations about the platform's functionality (29%) and design (9%);

Aspects of conversation Aspects of conversation
  • Mapping new subcultures: the formation of dedicated communities around niche genres, directors, and cinematic styles on Letterboxd offers researchers a window into emerging subcultures and their unique values.

Niche platforms centred around specific passions like Letterboxd are redefining what it means to consume and engage with media today. By embracing the insights from social listening, brands have the opportunity to engage authentically with these passion-driven communities, fostering brand loyalty and encouraging growth in a landscape increasingly dominated by genuine user interactions.

I'll leave you with this final thought: consider the potential disruptions nice platforms might bring to your industry. How can you leverage these insights to connect with passionate communities and adapt your engagement strategies?

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