How DoorDash Became Social Media's Top Delivery Service (HBBIP #36)

Alex Rawitz
Alex Rawitz
Jun 7, 2024

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Confession time: I’m not usually much of a food orderer—I prefer to cook—so there’s one Millennial trait that I can’t claim. But I’ve recently completed a cross-country move much faster than the rest of my stuff, and with my cookware still several weeks away from reaching me, fate has compelled me, at least for the time being, to change my ways.

As with most changes, this presents a new conundrum: which delivery service should I use? I’m a noob, and there are so many of them! 

Luckily, as I mentioned several weeks ago, CreatorIQ employees have a surefire way of determining their favorite brands: run everybody through the metrics aggregator and see who comes out on top! So without further ado, let’s see which delivery service comes out on top, winning not only my business, but—could it be?—my heart.

Alright, I’ll cut to the chase: it’s DoorDash. Here’s why.

On its own, DoorDash’s EMV growth is pretty impressive. The brand has surged all the way from $2.9M EMV in 2018 to $96.6M EMV in 2023, an improvement of over 3000%. It wins the aesthetically pleasing distinction of increasing its EMV every year from then till now, and even more impressively, continued growing after COVID boosted the social relevance of delivery services.

I’m not just saying all that just to say it—I’m saying it because this graph told me to say it. Check it out:

image_1_720-3DoorDash EMV, 2018 - 2023

See? I told you!

DoorDash’s dominance is even more impressive when set against other top delivery services (hence why it’s easy to make my purchasing decision). How have these other deliverers fared over the last five years? As you would imagine, given the whole ‘partial collapse of society as we know it’ thing, generally pretty well:

image_2_720-3Top Delivery Services by EMV, 2018 - 2023

Alright, so things are rough out here for Postmates—the space got more crowded, after all. And yes, I am aware that Domino’s is also a pizza purveyor, thank you, but they do more delivering than just about anyone, so it’s an interesting company to compare to the rest.

But what sets DoorDash apart? I thought I’d never ask:

A Balanced Social Strategy

Despite the platform’s runaway success, it’s always a bit of a surprise to see TikTok at the top of any brand’s platform list. Not because there’s anything wrong with TikTok, mind you—the dances are quite catchy! It’s just that Instagram is still pretty dominant, and TikTok’s algorithm, while powerful, is notoriously fickle in terms of which content it rockets to the top.

Well, if you’ll forgive me stretching this metaphor to a breaking point, DoorDash is aboard that rocket, presumably making deliveries to the moon.

Behold this breakdown of the delivery service’s top platforms from May 2023 to April 2024:

image_3_720-3DoorDash's EMV from May 2023 - April 2024 by channel 

In a photo-finish, TikTok edged out Instagram in terms of EMV. However, it was a clearer victory when it came to momentum: when you search for where DoorDash’s growth is stemming from, you find TikTok.

And it’s no wonder—after all, 13 of DoorDash’s top 20 EMV-driving pieces of content came from TikTok, where the brand partnered with eminent food and lifestyle creators like Keith Lee, Chef Chosen, and Shari Dyonne. These team-ups resulted in humorous content emphasizing the comfort and ease of delivery, and further underscoring DoorDash’s integration (I almost said ‘seamless integration,’ but that would be unfortunate) into post-pandemic life.

Another element that deserves a shout-out here is DoorDash’s healthy total, and momentum, from YouTube. Much of the humor content that circulated on TikTok also found a natural home on Shorts, with DoorDash’s top YouTube partners frequently sharing personalized discount codes.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

You might assume, given DoorDash’s impressive growth, that the brand dramatically expanded its creator community and post count over the last year. If so, you did that thing people do when they assume: from May 2023 to April 2024, 5.6k creators authored 17.5k posts about DoorDash, figures that proved respective 16% and 9% YoY improvements. Given the delivery service’s 55% YoY growth, that’s really not so much.

The difference came in the viral impact of those creators who did post about DoorDash. By partnering with some of the big names in its rolodex, and forging new partnerships with creators who possessed greater viral potential, DoorDash garnered 2.8B Impressions, a clean 100% YoY increase. 

I’m no math wiz or anything, but a 100% improvement seems pretty good. That’s gotta be, like, at least double, right?

Newcomers were key to this improvement. While DoorDash’s retained creators increased their output YoY, incoming fans of food delivery ultimately powered more EMV for the brand, and comprised a far larger share of DoorDash’s overall community:

image_4_720-2May 2023 - April 2024 Creators and their EMV 

Those newcomers include:

  • Joseph Hall (@bettercallhall), high school history teacher and TikTok star (not a combination I foresaw ever typing)
  • The aforementioned Keith Lee. Hope he gives this newsletter a good review.
  • Theo Von, comedian and podcast guy who has probably been recommended to you via YouTube Shorts. 
Taken together, these newcomers helped cast a wide net, moving DoorDash out of the world of food and into comedy—where an enthusiastic audience, and plenty of Impressions, eagerly awaited.

Friends in High Places

I’ve already mentioned plenty of internet celebrities. But how about, you know, celebrity celebrities? Or at least people who make their living in something a bit more physical than comedy skits.

I wasn’t aware, because I use pirated streams must have just never noticed while watching basketball before, but DoorDash and the NBA are pretty cozy! So much so that the NBA itself, or at least its owned social accounts, was one of DoorDash’s top EMV-drivers from May 2023 to April 2024. The NBA scored $762.7k EMV, a 32% YoY improvement, but this proved no match for one of the teams within the NBA.

DoorDash’s partnership with the Golden State Warriors exploded over the past year, with the two Bay Area institutions reaching new heights together. Well, DoorDash did, anyway. The Warriors maybe less so.

Anyway, Steph and Co. powered $2.8M EMV from May 2023 to April 2024, a nearly 600% increase from the Warriors’ total during the previous 12 months. These posts were not, as I assumed, Klay Thompson looking for new job opportunities after that Play-In game against the Kings (sorry Klay, still love you). Instead, DoorDash was tagged in a series of candid, behind-the-scenes “Game On” moments, featuring Warriors players warming up and goofing around.

While this content provided a steady stream of EMV for DoorDash, and helped the brand reach new audiences (what goes better with watching the game than ordering some food?), DoorDash bore only a tenuous relationship to the NBA content itself. In comparison, the brand was often front-and-center in humor content.

Ultimately, #Ad ($13.6M EMV) did out-earn #DoorDashPartner ($11.7M EMV), indicating that while the brand’s strategy was effective, sponsored content played a somewhat outsized role in this momentum.

Regardless of this sponsorship, DoorDash’s growth remains extremely impressive. The brand remains atop the delivery service mountain for now—but as we’ve seen, the space can shift rapidly. Will a challenger emerge? Will newcomers continue to actively post about DoorDash? And what am I actually going to order for dinner?

Tune in next week to find out!

(Disclaimer: I probably won’t be sharing my dinner order next week. I mean, unless you really want to hear it.)

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