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Darby Smart DIY site crafts deeper engagement with mobile video

Do-it-yourself startup Darby Smart combines how-to videos and shoppable content in a Pinterest-like layout, with mobile and video key ways that consumers engage with the platform. 

The three-year-old mobile-optimized site receives 7 millions views per month, with 55 percent of traffic coming from smartphones and 15 percent from tablets, underscoring the active space on mobile for those interested in creating their own fashions, home décor and other projects. Per the site, video ? which launched six months ago on the site ? has quickly become an important part of the equation. 

?The way people engage with the site while watching video is they watch more, spend more time on the site and come back more frequently,? said Nicole Shariat-Farb, co-founder and CEO of Darby Smart

?Video performs really well as a distribution channel,? she said. ?We?ve had videos that have reached 100,000 views in a day on Facebook. 

?Our audience typically sees ten times the reach when they share a video than any other type of content on Facebook.?

Vertical video
Darby Smart is designed to provide more of a how-to experience than Pinterest, which focuses on inspiring project ideas. Users can share what they have made and how they made it. 

Some of the content is also shoppable, with users able to tag what they have used to create a project. Darby Smart has a catalog of approximately 25,000 craft items from that can be purchased from different vendors, which tend to be small-batch manufacturers who sell on sites such as Etsy. 

In the six months that users have been able to submit videos on Darby Smart, the site has learned a lot about what is and is not working as more video is consumed on mobile. 


One insight is that orientation really matters. With 70 percent of users viewing videos on mobile, this content should be filmed with a vertical orientation so the image fills the screen and does not have large bands of empty space above and below. This also makes it easier for users to see what is being done in a video, which is key for how-tos. 

Darby Smart has found users are more likely to complete a video that has been shown vertically. 

Short and sweet
?Another important takeaway is length, with videos under 30-seconds in length having the greatest success, including the highest engagement rates, according to Darby Smart. 

What does not matter as much is sound, with more than 90 percent of users watching videos with the sound off. This could have something to do with there users are consuming the content. If they are at work or on a train commuting to and from work, this may be why they do not want to turn on the sound. 


One no-no is repeating steps in a video, which encourages viewers to click off. 

?The tighter you can communicate the information, the better,? Ms. Shariat-Farb said. 

Keeping it real
The important thing is to have video, as this is what mobile users are looking for, and not worry about the production quality too much. 

In fact, the data would seem to suggest that mobile users prefer video that appears realistic and not overly stylized. The trend toward live streaming video supports this idea as well. 

?Video that appear more real perform better than videos that are highly stylized,? Ms. Shariat-Farb said. 

?We see everyone investing in live right now,? she said. ?Live is the most real content you can deliver. 

?That?s what people want these days ? as close to unedited as possible.?

Going forward, Darby Smart is preparing to launch an application in July. Users will be able to watch videos in the app and the company is exploring the possibility of adding live streaming. 

?Live streaming exposes the mistakes you might make when making something and people seem to appreciate this,? Ms. Shariat-Farb said. 

?We know video works and we know people are intimidated by it, so how do you get them over that barrier, as this is the content people want to consume,? she said.