How Did an 80-Year-Old Politician become an Influencer Overnight?

Dr. Tan is the founder of Progress Singapore Party (PSP), which is one of Singapore’s stronger opposition parties next to the Worker’s Party. He also contested in the 2011 Presidential Election, losing by only 0.35%. Prior to his political career, he was a doctor and today he is an 80-year-old Instagram sensation (amongst other things). The road to GE2020 has been both exciting and tumultuous, but what was probably one of the more lighthearted and unforeseen results of this election period is Dr. Tan’s unrivalled fame on social media. When I first discovered his account one week ago, he was already quite famous and had approximately 10K followers. As of today, he has 40.2K followers in total. 

@tanchengbock on Instagram

So how exactly did this happen?

Truth be told, I don’t think it was planned. This was far more a combination of an 80-year-old opposition politician using Instagram to connect with young voters, and millennials looking for authenticity and candidness in their politicians than it was some meticulously thought out social media campaign. Nevertheless, it might do us some good to take notes from Dr. Tan. 

1 – He Reposts All Tagged Content 

The key to being a successful and authentic influencer is making sure your audience feels included in your journey/narrative. Dr. Tan reposts all the stories that people tag him in, whether it’s to show appreciation for him, to comment on his work, or to take part in the ‘challenges’ and ‘activities’ he posts. 

He also compiles all his videos and posts (with & without other people) into highlights so that people can see his engagement with the community. 

If you haven’t visited his page the titles might sound a bit of context, but if you know you know 😉

2 – He Collaborates With Everyone 

The second key to success as an influencer is to collaborate. Since Dr. Tan’s target audience is mainly millennials and Gen Zs, he makes sure to work with them as much as possible. 

He frequently invites people over to his house for informal interviews and ‘Get To Know Me’ sessions, which have taken off so well. People love the involvement and authenticity that Dr. Tan embodies, and how happily he engages with strangers both in person and online. And this works!

The majority of his audience is aged between 18-25, suggesting that his social media efforts are working. 

3 – He Posts (Very) Regularly 

Popular Chips

The insights we pulled up show that Dr. Tan posts images 5 times a week and videos 4 times a week, which is one form of organic content posting each day, on average. This seems to resonate very well with his audience, and his current average Engagement Rate of 7.04% is more than 3 times the industry average. His video view rate is also significantly higher than the industry average of 11.74%. 

Popular Chips

Posting everyday might not work for everyone, so it is important to respond to what your audience desires. Dr. Tan might not have a social media team, but he seems to know exactly what he is doing. 

If you’re Singaporean and you are voting in this General Election, we’d like to take this opportunity to remind you to use your vote wisely. Here are 5 Singaporean Activist Accounts To Follow Before GE2020 that will help you make a more informed decision. 


In the midst of local political change, let’s also not forget the Black Lives Matter movement. There are many, many ways to pledge your support to the movement as a whole as well as undo institutional and structural racism in our societies. Now is not the time to remain silent. 

If you’re interested in doing more than supporting black-owned businesses and amplifying the voices and work of black creators, visit this link curated by Indya Moore: https://linktr.ee/Indyamoore which contains educational resources, bail funds, organisations to donate to, and ways to rebuild black businesses. 

Articles we have covered on the topic of black excellence include: 

  1. 10 Black-Owned Beauty Brands To Support
  2. 10 Black-Owned Fashion Brands To Support
  3. Top 10 Black Beauty Influencers
  4. 4 Inspirational Black Influencers on Film and Instagram
  5. Pat McGrath Skin Fetish
  6. The Insta-brand Beauty Bakerie
  7. Juvia’s Place: From $2,000 To A Multimillion-Dollar Instagram Makeup Brand
  8. The Breakout Stars of ‘When They See Us’ on Instagram
  9. FENTY: The Disruptive Brand
  10. Homecoming #Beychella: The Pinnacle of Coachella Music History
  11. The Cast of Queen Sono on Netflix
  12. The Cast of Black-ish on Instagram
  13. The Main Cast of HBO’s ‘Insecure’ on Instagram

Written by Deesha Menon

Influencer Marketing at Popular Chips. Interested in social issues, narratives, books, social media, and machine learning.

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