In Singapore, “science labs” dedicated to the social media scene exist. Stephanie Phua, co-founder of social media agency Duo Studio, allows Doyenne.sg a glimpse into her world of optimising both the art and science behind successful content.
“People are complex and so is their usage of social media.”
In sunny, first-world Singapore, it is really hard for creative people to succeed, muses Stephanie Phua, co-founder of Duo Studio.
“It takes solid grit to succeed anywhere in the world and even more so in Singapore. We are a generation that’s fighting very hard to make sure that the foundations for a flourishing arts and creative scene are being set now,” she says with conviction.
As long as one is passionate and has an innate drive to be better at something, Stephanie believes that nobody can stop you. “If you fail, take responsibility. Don’t blame the government and the country.”
In a connected world where social media permeates most parts of our everyday life, Stephanie has a love-hate relationship with this subject matter. “I love that it helps me keep in touch with people, it also forces businesses to be more people-centric. But I hate the keyboard warriors that surface from it and the narcissism it has bred in this generation,” she says matter-of-factly.
With Facebook, Instagram, likes, shares, viral hits, videos, GIFs, crazy cats and happy pets all competing for attention, social media resembles a rat race. To make sense of everything, one has to be constantly updated with platform and behavioural trends.
“It’s inherently social,” explains Stephanie. “People are complex and so is their usage of social media, which makes things unpredictable. You just have to figure out and be clear about what makes sense to you and your client.”
Housed on the second level of a refurbished shophouse in Singapore’s hipster Jalan Besar enclave, Duo Studio is a safe haven for young, budding social media creatives to grow as individuals and together as a team.
Like a cosy apartment, shoes must be removed, the parquet flooring creaking in welcoming tones reminiscent of simpler, technology-free days.
A typical day at Duo Studio looks like this: meetings, brainstorming, writing, editing and drawing, dotted with payments, ordering office supplies, watering the plants and playing with the studio’s resident pet dog. No two days are the same, notes Stephanie.
Stephanie lets on that she started Duo Studio when she got tired trying to find the right fit for a social media job. “It wasn’t anything bold or daring,” she explains. “I simply got sick of conventions and trying to do things differently in structured environments. The purpose and direction of the studio came as we eased into the business.”
What would you like to be known for, we probe. “More than anything else, our work ethic. It is a scary dog-eat-dog world out there, and things are just becoming worse. I hope to stay true to the values I’ve been brought up with, and to provide my teammates with a safe haven to work that’s politics and bullshit free.”
True to Stephanie’s values, the three qualities brands need in order to establish an effective online presence are simple. To be authentic in engagement, keen in listening, and empathetic in stakeholder communications.
Adopting a similar approach, less is more for this creative entrepreneur to keep things together. “My happy place in life is in bed, with a good book, music and my cats,” says Stephanie with a blissful grin.
Images by Esther Yeo
Founded in 2015, Duo Studio’s mission is to only produce damn good work and have fun. After doing their rounds around big and small ad agencies, Stephanie and her team were tired of making stuff they weren’t proud of and thought, why not do it the right way? Think big, execute sexy, have fun and smother clients with enthusiasm and love!