Let's start by explaining how this story even found its roots.
While searching for leads on a possible feature on 2015's newest key opinion leaders and digital influencers in Singapore (think: @prettyfrowns, @angiefeimao and @engnatalie), this writer looked towards Facebook for possible recommendations. As soon as "Favourite local influencer/successful 'Instagrammer' of 2015?" was posted, a comment popped up by an old friend — you know, the sort you never see but who's highly responsive on socials — suggesting Lee Hsien Loong.
And why not? The Prime Minister has had quite a year, what with the SG50 celebrations and the passing of his father and Singapore's first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew. Politicians and social media can either be a match made in heaven, or a pairing that's just waiting to combust at the slightest crack. On one hand, it's the easiest way to connect with citizens and show that you're just like any other person who enjoys flatlays. But on the other hand, the immediacy of social media can also lead to your downfall at the slightest indiscretion. While other local politicans have proven that it's better to stay away from any form of social media, PM Lee knows what works, and how to keep fans coming back.
To welcome his return from a two-week leave — which just ended on Christmas — we decide to celebrate the five best reasons (out of many) why he wins at Instagram.
1. He keeps us guessing
The #guesswhere hashtag he often employs is a clever way to promote local places you won't otherwise know existed. Whether it's a religious monument that's under the radar or the opening of a highly anticipated building, PM Lee highlights corners and crevices that go unnoticed in Singapore's concrete landscape.
2. He takes copyright very, very seriously
Photos taken by PM Lee himself are credited with "Photo by me". You can always tell when it's his as well — he favours mood shots, close-ups of nature and the occassional black-and-white snap. Emotive and endearing — that's our Prime Minister.
3. His creative use of hashtags
#Guesswhere, #jalanjalan, #puddlegram, #hotelwindowview and #justforfun — the list goes on. Like most digital influencers, he's susceptible to some humble-bragging — #hotelwindowview's often used to show off the scenery while he's on an official visit overseas, while #jalanjalan's an excuse to showcase his vibrant social life.
4. His impressive collection of #skyporn
PM Lee loves his collection of pictures depicting cloud-peppered skies, kaleidoscopic sunsets and dramatic hues. It's often accompanied by a little factoid about the place, or simply his sentiments on the occasion. Either way, we know for sure that the Prime Minister stops and stares for a while.
5. His "looking through the glass" aesthetic
Sure, Sofia Coppola has her directorial signature shots of a character looking out from the window of a moving vehicle, but for PM Lee, any glass surface will do. It's usually to document the gloomy weather, but not with a negative connotation — it's always captured in awe or anticipation.