Take a scroll through your Instagram feed on any given day and you’ll likely find pictures of impeccably styled homes, desks, gardens, cafes, beach towel and umbrella set-ups, and so on – you name it, there is sure to be a picture of it on Instagram that looks like it’s come from a magazine spread.
For businesses, creating and capturing these Insta-worthy set ups can do wonders for marketing. For those of us to whom styling doesn’t come as easy as 1, 2, 3, however, Queensland startup Creatively Squared looks to ease the path to the perfect Instagram feed by connecting clients to visual content producers.
The business was born out of an Instagram community started by Ruth Stephensen last year. As cofounder Scott Thomas explained, Stephensen had been taking part in photo competitions and perusing other online creative hubs, but felt that she needed something more motivating in order to truly challenge and spur her creativity.
“She started an account and invited up-and-coming businesses to sponsor by providing a prize and it just grew from there. It was unbelievable how many talented people were playing along each week just to challenge themselves and have fun,” Thomas said.
“After a while we noticed our sponsors struggling to generate quality social content on top of running their businesses, so we saw where the opportunity and gap in the market was, and Creatively Squared grew from there.”
According to Thomas, brands working with Creatively Squared are coming to understand that consumers are getting increasingly desensitised to straight marketing messages and that creating engaging content, which allows them to capitalise on free organic reach, is a better investment.
“We make it easy for them to create the content they need to stay visible, which in turn enables them to focus on the important bits like being responsive and communicating with their customers,” he explained.
The Creatively Squared platform works by having clients input information around what they’re looking for in order for the startup to construct a brief; combined with data from the client’s website and existing social feeds, the startup then pairs the client with a creative it feels is best suited to their brand.
On the other side of the marketplace, Creatively Squared has been finding and hand picking creatives from within its own community, which it has been building by running sponsored creative challenges each weekly.
“We look for creatives that have a unique style and can take a brief and create something really captivating…the unique interpretations of these themes and quality of the images they enter is just unbelievable. Through running these challenges we’ve been able to find an amazing pool of talented creatives from around the world,” Thomas said.
“Our aim is to not only select the best talent to work with us, but to help our wider community improve their creative skills. One of the most rewarding aspects is seeing people go from being afraid to have a go, through to amazing us with the quality of what they’re capable of in a short period of time. It’s a really supportive community which is great to see.”
Creatives will be connected with relevant briefs as they become available once registered on the platform.
There are around 70 creatives on board so far, working with primarily small to medium businesses that have found Creatively Squared either online or through word of mouth, Thomas said.
The startup offers three packages, allowing brands to buy 10 custom images for $750, 25 images for $1,750, or 50 images for $2,950.
Of course, there is significant competition in the space, from traditional agencies to photographers, stock image sites, and other influencer platforms, however Thomas believes Creatively Squared’s offering is unique.
“Instead of blowing their marketing budgets by hiring a studio, professional photographer, stylists, props and booking talent to create their content, brands can get it all in the one place by using our highly skilled creatives,” he said.
“Authenticity matters on social media and the content we create has so much more warmth and personality than content produced in a corporate or studio environment.”
Thomas and Stephensen have been developing the platform themselves over the last eight months, evolving the interface and “moving it forward one piece at a time”, Thomas said.
To provide the cofounders with support, Creatively Squared was recently accepted into the Collider program at Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA), an accelerator focused on creative technology startups.
“It’s great to be able to sit down with people like Ian Mason from Virgin Startup, or Mike Knapp from Shoes of Prey, and discuss our business. This has given us not only critical advice but also the confidence that we’re heading in the right direction. It really reinforces how friendly and supportive the startup ecosystem is here in Brisbane,” Thomas said.
The startup has also been selected to take part in the Creative3 Pitch event, part of the Creative3 Conference run by CEA each year. With the pitch set for September, the winner will go on to represent Australia at the Creative Business Cup conference in Copenhagen, and be given the chance to participate in the Virgin Startups London accelerator, StepUp.
As Creatively Squared gears up for the event, Thomas said the startup will over the coming months be doing testing to identify which markets it should focus its efforts on.
“We’re also looking at what the platform will look like in the future, and there’s some exciting developments with visual AI so we are figuring out how we can best incorporate this into our business,” he said.
“We’re also really looking forward to participating in Creative3 Pitch this year and putting our skills selling the business to the test…but mostly we’re looking forward to the challenge of what’s to come.”
Image: Scott Thomas and Ruth Stephensen. Source: Supplied.