2017 Community Survey results


What you told us

Our wonderful community continues to grow and evolve and it's nearly two years now since we held our very first creative challenge. Although the format hasn't changed much since then, we’re always thinking of things we can do to add value and support the people that make Creatively Squared the place it is today. An important part of this is listening to feedback from you, which is why we put out our community survey throughout January.

We are so grateful to everyone that took the time to help us and as promised, here are the key things we learned from reading your responses.

How long have you followed Creatively Squared?

How long have you followed us?

Key learnings: We have a lot of newcomers to our community and mustn't forget that not everyone will be familiar with our format or know how to get involved. We believe we should be regularly reminding people of how to participate in our challenges and how to best engage with the rest of the community.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the Creatively Squared community?

The challenges, for both participating in and being inspired by. It's a very chill supportive group. I also really enjoy the blog posts! 😍

Being part of a community that supports and lifts people. Having the option to participate in weekly challenges that offer the chance to win amazing prizes.

The friendships gained (even if only online), the weekly challenges(even though I've been slack on those!) and how friendly and encouraging everyone is who is part of the community!

Key learnings: We were very happy to see that the most common themes you reflected on were the inspiration and community support. This is what we believe to be the heart of our community and what makes it such a special place. We will endeavour to keep inspiring and encouraging you while helping you upskill. 

How many times have you submitted an entry to one of our Challenges?

How often do you enter

It seems the most helpful thing everyone needs to submit entries is more time, which is something I'm sure we all need. Some people mentioned that they need to build their confidence, or that they don’t think they’re good enough to participate.

While we do have prizes each week for our best entries, what we love to see the most is people just having a go. We’ve seen so many people since we started grow, become more creative and improve their skills over time, and our community is great at supporting everyone. 

Key learnings: We really want to encourage more people to have a go and join us for the first time so we will be brining back our #cs_newbie tag . We will also be having more prizes for first time entrants this year in addition to our usual weekly prizes so look out for this if you have been interested in taking part.

Which brands and themes would you like to see?

We saw a variety of responses but it was very clear that you want to see a mix of small creative brands, independents and some big name brands as well.

We all love the floral and coffee faffing and of course we’ll continue to have lots of our flatlay favourites, but you told us you also want to see some more challenging themes - food, places, abstract, colours.

Key learnings: We will continue to mix this up, we know not all themes and sponsors will appeal to everyone but we will do our best to bring you lots of variety in 2018

What would you like to see at Creatively Squared?

What would you like to see?

This is great feedback for us and we’re going to try to implement as much as possible.

  • We’ll be including more interviews with our sponsors, hosts and creative community.
  • Instagram Live workshops are coming - if you would like to run an Instagram Live workshop for our creative community, get in touch here.
  • In addition to the 55% that chose live meetups and workshops, an overwhelming 88% of you said you would like to attend an event in your city and we can’t wait to start making this happen. It was fantastic to meet some of the community last year in London, Singapore and Brisbane, we’ll be hosting more meetups this year so to register interest in your city head to our events page.
  • In March we’ll be running our first challenge where our community can vote for the weekly winners on our website, so keep an eye out for that.

Highlights from our other survey questions

  • 72% of you told us you would like to join a Creatively Squared Facebook group, we’ll be launching this soon. The best thing about Creatively Squared is the creative people you meet and we want to make it easier to connect with and learn from each other, so we'll have a strong focus on sharing creative skills, tips and techniques
  • More than half you you regularly read our blog so look forward to more how to guides, interviews and digital marketing content as well as our content creation tips and tricks.
  • Almost 20% of you have joined our Messenger list, we’ve had great feedback about this since launching it in December.

    If you haven’t yet joined us on Messenger you can click this link to do so. Not only do you get early access to our challenge theme announcements each week, we also share our winners, blog posts and events and you can choose what you receive from us and how often.

Do you have any questions for us?

How are the winners selected?

Unless otherwise specified the weekly sponsor chooses the winners each week and judge the entries based on the following criteria:

  • Concept and creativity of entries in relation to the weekly theme
  • Dates - Images that are submitted during the live challenge period 
  • Captions - Opening captions that include the correct tags
  • Followings - Accounts that are following the weekly sponsor and @creativelysquared

Every week is a fresh slate and previous challenge winners and outcomes are not taken into consideration.

What do the sponsors look for in a winning entry? Do i need professional equipment?

Absolutely not! Our community does welcome a variety of people from talented amateurs to professionals from all over the world. Regardless of your background, your experience and equipment does not determine your ability to participate or the outcome of the challenge. Winners are not chosen on their flawless finish, it is all about how your share your creative ideas and ultimately more about concept than execution. 

What makes a standout entry?

Creativity and concept of the image in relation to our weekly theme.

Most of the featured images are flatlays, why is this?

We admit we do have a love affair with flatlays, but our creative challenge is for photos of any type. A lot of the entries we get submitted are flatlays which is why they account for large proportion of the featured images.

Thank you to everyone that donated their time to help us improve.

If you have feedback for us, theme or sponsor suggestions, you can still complete our Community Survey by clicking here

To stay in touch with everything Creatively Squared, join us on Messenger or subscribe to our Email Newsletter.

Hashtagging on Instagram… is it even #worthit anymore?

Photo by  Suganth  on  Unsplash

Photo by Suganth on Unsplash

Social media platforms seem to be ever-updating their algorithms and it’s easy to feel out of touch with the ‘new best way’ to promote yourself online. We’re told that hashtags allow you to improve your visibility and share your content with interested users - but do they actually help?

Hashtagging and the deep unknown

Instagram, like most social platforms, doesn’t exactly advertise their algorithm updates and explain how to most effectively use their features. Because of this, we can only trust our own experiences, or take advice from others, on how to make sense of the hashtag mystery.

“How many hashtags should I use? Do I choose to include popular hashtags, or niche specific tags? Should I always use the same hashtags? In the caption or in the comments?”

I’m sure we’ve all asked ourselves questions like these before, and if you do a little researching online… you’ll find no one really knows the true answer. At Creatively Squared, we have done some experimenting to try and bring some clarity to the mystery of hashtagging. We hope this blog can help you make sense of this feature and encourage you to do some testing of your own!

What does the data say?

While Instagram isn't forthcoming with all the details of their algorithm, they do provide users with business accounts some basic profile insights and metrics behind each post.

After looking into the data behind our own account we were quite surprised to discover that only 5-10% of the average reach, was from outside our profile's follower base. On a more in-depth study of the insights panel (accessible by swiping up) we were also able to see precisely how many (or more accurately how few!) impressions came from hashtags. This was on average 5 hashtag views for every 1000 in feed impressions - not great is it?

 To investigate this further, we asked a few creatives from our community to share their post insights with us to see if they matched our findings. Their account insights all had very similar metrics to ours which supports our theory that hashtags have little to no effect on the overall impact of a post. In fact, when we crunched the numbers we found that on average only a measly 0.5% of all impressions came from hashtags!

Conclusion: This basic analysis of the data provided by Instagram definitely suggests that hashtag use does little to promote the reach of our posts.

Photo by  Jon Tyson  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Where should you put your hashtags?

There are a lot of people claiming that you need to post all of your hashtags into your opening caption in order for them to be seen. When the whole ‘shadow banning’ fiasco hit last year, users affected would disappear from public hashtag feeds but still be visible to those that were following them.

To put this opening caption theory to the test we viewed the same hashtag feed from several profiles (to account for any followed user implications) to see if we would get different results.

We found absolutely no difference in the hashtag feed when viewed from a variety of accounts and the images visible were a mix of posts with hashtags in the first comment and opening caption.

There is of course the possibility that some accounts that had used that tag were simply not visible at all to anyone. When we moderate our weekly challenge hashtag there are usually some discrepancies between the number of times Instagram says the tag has been used and the number of posts we can see, but this could also be attributed to people posting from private accounts.

Conclusion: Although we can see no obvious examples of posts not showing up in feeds due to the placement of the hashtags, if you are concerned it certainly can’t hurt to put them in your opening caption. 

How many hashtags should you use?

Some users say that you should limit the number of hashtags to just several of your top ones and there are many rumours swirling that imply Instagram will penalise you for using too many.

Common sense tells us that it would seem a bit ridiculous for the platform to permit account holders to do something and then penalise them for doing it. We are in the school of thought that if Instagram lets you use 30 then why not just go for it and use all of them?

With our research already showing that minimal post traffic comes from hashtag use, why not spend your time researching a more refined set of tags. We think it’s much more effective to spend your time finding 10 amazing and hyper-relevant hashtags that you yourself would love to follow, than by putting a whole bunch up just for the sake of it.

Conclusion: Some users claim a sweet spot of around 11 tags however, with no definitive ruling from Instagram you’ll have to come to your own conclusion about this one or err on the side of caution and not use all 30.

How do you get your picture into the top posts of a hashtag feed?

We looked at the results of this from several different accounts and funnily enough there is one simple solution to have your image featured in the top posts - make sure the person viewing the feed is following your account. To verify this, we looked at the our own branded hashtag #creativelysquared from several different users accounts and no top 9 was the same.

From this you can determine that as well as popular posts, you are more likely to see the posts of accounts that you follow in the Top Posts section of hashtag feeds. We also considered other factors such as where they placed the hashtags or how many they used, none of which seemed to have any impact on its visibility.

What hashtags should you use?

While the business insights will usually tell you how many users saw your post through the hashtags, it won’t indicate which tag led a user to your photo or if they engaged with it. Unfortunately there is no clear way to determine how successful your individual hashtag selection is apart from overall post performance.

A popular theory at the moment is that you should mix up your hashtags and use different ones each time you post. Whether Instagram’s algorithm is monitoring this or not, we agree it is a good practice. By using a mix of popular and niche tags and mixing them up each time you post you will give your content the best shot of being introduced  to wider audience that will enjoy it.

Conclusion: The most important thing to do when selecting which hashtags to use is to ensure that the tag you are using is relevant to your image. Before you commit to using a particular tag take a good look at the feed and ask yourself - would I want to browse this collection?

One last tip - stay on top of the latest features

The latest hashtag feature introduced at the end of 2017 enables users to follow their favourite hashtags. Instead of manually searching hashtag feeds they love, accounts can have content from their favourite tags delivered straight into their feeds. For those, like us, who are not getting much traffic to their posts via hashtags this could be a game changer.

We have already started following our branded #creativelysquared tag as well as the weekly hashtags meaning bring our community even closer into our feed. In our experience, rather than show you every post from that feed, the algorithm will only show you the top posts and curated highlights from the hashtag stories.

As well as discovering more content that you are interested in, you can also look more closely at other peoples accounts and find out what hashtags they enjoy and are following. You can view this alongside the ‘people’ tab when you click on an accounts followings. Once this feature gains more momentum it will be key to conducting hashtag research, allowing you to more easily identify popular tags and refine your own hashtag selection each time you post.

Followed hashtags will also start appearing in our Stories feeds allowing you to expand the reach of your posts to a different audience. Try including your favourite tag or two when you next share Stories and see if you get some new viewers.

A Wrap up

So to answer our opening line - is it #worthit? Our conclusion that in general, probably not but if you have the time it can’t hurt!

There are definitely lots of positive things to be gained from the right hashtag use, such as getting your images shared by your favourite feature hubs or getting involved in online communities. There are lots of fun themed hashtags you can participate in like Instagram’s own weekend hashtag project and creative challenges like the one that we run every week on our Creatively Squared Instagram account. Discovering your favourite hashtags can help you find your tribe online and introduce you to other accounts that inspire you.

At the end of the day, hashtag use, along with many other social media features, is likely to remain a complete mystery. There is no way to truly know the perfect way to use hashtagging to maximise reach - unless, of course you work for Instagram and would like to share the answers with us!

With the introduction of users being able to follow hashtags, we believe Instagram is moving toward an updated kind of feed, where hashtags play a more integral role than in the past. Our best advice would be to jump onto any new features that Instagram release, like following hashtags and Story highlights and experiment with what works best for your account. Find your niche and participate in hashtag projects, join communities and follow your favourite hashtag feeds. Just make sure you are having fun! Best of luck with it all!


3 tips for writing great product descriptions

A great product description can be the make or break of your product. Many times, product descriptions are added as an afterthought when setting up an eCommerce store. Business owners tend to put down basic information such as the make and model, and leave it at that.

What they don’t realise is that they are missing out on a great marketing opportunity. Online shoppers are becoming increasingly selective about their purchases and since they can’t physically interact with the products, the description is crucial to help seal the deal.

Here are three tips to help you write beautiful product descriptions that work for you.


1. Define the problem you are solving

The first thing to keep in mind when writing description is that your are writing this for your customer, rather than for yourself. Talking about the work that went into making the product does not help the customer. What they want to know is; What problem does your product solve for them? How will it benefit them?

Your product descriptions are a way of marketing the solutions to the problems that you are solving for your customers. As management consultant Peter Drucker has said, “ The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

Customers appreciate it when companies demonstrate an intimate understanding of their needs. For example, let’s take a look at Clif Bar's Builder’s energy bar.

Cliff builders bar

This is a great example of a product description that solves a very clear problem: Aiding muscle repair and growth by including very specific ingredients in the energy bar. It includes a very detailed breakdown of its composition. This product description very clearly addresses the problem of helping to repair and build muscle. If the description had just read, “Protein bar comprising of 20g of complete protein” the problem being solved would be lost. In the same way, your product should always address the problem you are solving for your customers.

Of course, if you have lots of different products that solve different problems like Clif does, it's important and useful for you to have your product descriptions for each product saved along with all of the other product details, for easy reference and updating. Invest in an inventory management system such as TradeGecko that lets you create and save your product descriptions in bulk, to save you time and effort.


2. Sell the story.

The second way to write effective product descriptions is to focus on the vision of your brand. Why did you start selling these products? What does your brand stand for? In other words what is the story you are trying to sell?

Your product descriptions should tell the story of your brand. In order to do that, you first need to know what a brand is, and what your brand specifically, looks like.

This excellent definition of a brand by Seth Godin reads, "A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another."

What is the story of your brand that will compel customers to choose your offering over your competitors?

One brand that sells its story magnificently is the all-American footwear retailer, Minnetonka. The hugely popular brand has a long, rich history and is well known for high quality, handcrafted goods. It is also a brand that believes in social entrepreneurship and their product reflect its brand perfectly. Take this great product description for their women’s Me to We Moc moccasin;

Me to We Moc

This product description works because of its genuinity. The writer skips the boring details of what type of leather was used and what style the embellishments were meant to resemble. It focuses on the message behind the shoes and behind the brand. The purchase is more about what the product signifies rather than what the product actually is. The description tells you that you are doing more than buying a pair of shoes, you are “supporting the dreams of another woman”. In this way the product description captures the essence of the brand perfectly.

One additional thing to keep in mind when creating your product descriptions, is to make sure that the story is consistent between all of your eCommerce channels. Many retailers sell across multiple channels and it can be challenging to ensure brand consistency. Use an inventory management solution that allows you to manage your descriptions as well as other product details across multiple sales channels.


3. Avoid clichés

The last way to write a good product description, may seem like common sense, yet many business owners fall into this trap. The cliché.

Many business owners almost subconsciously use cliché phrases such as, “excellent quality product”, or “expertly crafted goods”. Although the best thing would be to avoid phrases like that completely. If you are going to use them, always substantiate your claims.

What makes the quality of your product excellent? Was it tested for durability? Who were the experts that crafted these goods? Are they world renowned? Using cliché phrases only clumps your products with the rest of the poorly described products in the market.

Instead, focusing on the specific strengths of your products gives it credibility and makes it stand out. One company that does this well is celebrated wedding shoe designer and long time user of TradeGecko, Rachel Simpson Shoes.

Rachael Simpson Shoes


This description of their Ophelia shoes is great example of a unique and targeted product description. The sentences use imagery to evoke a sense of comfort and support. The sentence, “The front part hugs your ankle beautifully & the ankle tie keeps you supported all day long” acknowledges that the wearer of the shoe is fashionable yet practical. It even implies that the wearer is ambitious or productive because they will be standing for long periods. The sentence is tailored for a specific audience. Focus on the strengths and the vision of your product when writing the description: Why should people buy you products over others? What makes it unique?

So the next time you considering how to describe a new product or are updating your eCommerce product descriptions, remember;

  1. Define the problem you are solving

  2. Sell the story

  3. Avoid clichés

And lastly have fun when writing your product descriptions! If you love your products and write about them with great passion and authenticity, your buyers will feel it too.


Neeta Nelson is a Content Marketing Manager at TradeGecko: a cloud-based inventory and order management platform for SMEs, serving B2B wholesalers, distributors and eCommerce businesses.