How Dunkin' Brands Incorporates Video Into Its Influencer Strategy

An Interview with Melanie Cohn, Senior Brand Engagement Manager

Instagram is one of the most dominant social media platforms for influencer marketing, and while in-feed photos and Stories are two of the most effective formats, marketers are increasingly focusing on video content.

According to February 2019 research from influencer marketing agency Mediakix, 56% of US marketers said YouTube video was the most effective channel and format for influencer marketing, while 54% said the same about Instagram video.

For our report on video ads in social media, we spoke with Melanie Cohn, senior manager of brand engagement at Dunkin’ Brands, about the trends, challenges and opportunities for brands working with influencers on video content.

Can you describe Dunkin's influencer marketing strategy?

Our overall influencer marketing strategy is two-fold. First, we partner with influencers around menu innovations to help us change perceptions and earn credibility for new offerings. Secondly, we work with influencers around a unique creative idea and message to generate excitement and drive action for major programs.

Can Dunkin' share any stories about successful video campaigns?

For Valentine’s Day this year, we asked DIY and creative Instagrammers to build their version of a doughnut bouquet made up of our heart-shaped doughnut. Many of these videos performed at an above-average engagement rate, and also outperformed our traditional organic content across our channels.

What are some reasons your brand might choose to collaborate with influencers on video content?

There are a few reasons. First, video is the fastest-growing content type, specifically on YouTube and Instagram, and viewers are watching videos from the people they trust. Second, Instagram stories have also now surpassed time spent in-feed, so we’re working more on stories with our ambassadors, since that’s where they get the most engagement. Finally, if we want to show off our product story, and collaborating with influencers on video gives us a way to tell a more in-depth story, or use a creator’s unique talents.

Some studies have shown that collaborating with influencers on video is more expensive. Do you find this to be true? If so, is it worth the additional cost?

Video vs. photo isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. It makes sense that you would pay a slightly higher premium for longer-form content that requires more time, from both the influencer and their audience.

YouTube was the original platform for video creators, but some are speculating that it will soon face competition from the likes of TikTok and other emerging platforms. What’s your take on this?

YouTube is certainly a dominant force and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. However, platforms like TikTok are beginning to emerge as a channel for influencers to grow their brand. We think that’s one to keep an eye on.

Is brand safety still an issue on YouTube?

Since the volume of videos on YouTube is so high, brand safety is a priority within our paid advertising—both in-stream and with influencers. For influencers, we have a robust vetting process that helps us narrow down ones that we feel are best for the brand, and we also work with our influencer partners to pre-vet and make sure the content we’re surrounding is an appropriate fit for our brand.

What do you think of the influencer space on Facebook Watch, IGTV and Snapchat?

Facebook Watch is a great place for publishers and larger influencers. It hasn’t quite permeated the mainstream yet, so smaller influencers may have a tough time gaining views, but as more people learn about Facebook Watch, it could be a big contender. Instagram has started to promote IGTV more heavily in the feed with various influencers, where influencers are teasing longer-form content and then sending users to IGTV to finish it. We see this as a valuable way for influencers to drive people from the feed into IGTV. Once they’ve gotten you hooked on the content, they leave you wanting to watch more on IGTV. Snapchat still has that very personal one-on-one feel, so some of the top influencers may still find success there, but for Dunkin’, it’s less about influencers and more about the tools Snapchat can provide you that enhance your content, like filters, augmented reality and stickers.