Madonna’s like a virgin when it comes to social media

Is the Queen of Pop, Madonna, trying to tell us that she’s ‘like a virgin’ when it comes to social media? Or perhaps her PR manager has taken a ‘holiday’?

Whatever the reason, it seems she just can’t help diving into global issues to tell the world something important: buy her 13th studio album, #RebelHeart.

I’ve not yet worked out if she’s a digital dunce or whether her seemingly tactless approach is a stroke of genius.

Whatever it is, I just don’t agree with it.

Madonna’s Instagram crimes
Evidence A: Charlie Hebdo
This week, Madonna Instagrammed a Je Suis Charlie image, followed by an image of an eye containing the French flag.

Nothing out of the ordinary there, I hear you say. It’s an image that stands for solidarity and has been shared countless times over the past few days. But, Madonna shamelessly used the image to promote her album, by concluding her message with the #RebelHearts hashtag.

Evidence B: Iconic historical figures
Madonna’s latest slip-up comes less than a week after she was forced to apologise for posting a series of ‘fan art’ images (that’s right, she’s blaming her fans) of iconic figures – such as Martin Luther King, Bob Marley and Nelson Mandela. She posted their pictures with black cord over their faces, replicating her #RebelHearts album cover.

Why? To show that they’ve all shared the same approach to life.

Within a matter of minutes she’d created a social media fire storm, with some calling her racist (although they’d chosen to ignore she’d also posted similar images featuring Elvis Presley, Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe.)

Madonna’s approach broke my cardinal rule – if you can’t say anything useful, don’t say if at all. Social media silence is key when serious matters don’t involve you – especially if you’re cheapening it into a quick and dirty PR stunt.

Although some might say she’s praising people’s bravery and commitment to their cause, or merely shining a light on the achievements of these historical figures, that notion is instantly compromised as she stamps her album hashtag onto every Instagram update. After all, if they truly inspired her then she wouldn’t put herself in the same category as them.

She’s tipped the scales and made it all about her, and how she can benefit, so it’s no surprise it wasn’t well-received.

The fact that she felt compelled/forced to post an apology on Facebook (3 January) should have been a warning sign not to repeat this faux pas, but there’s no stopping Madonna. She’s been ‘frozen’ in the moment and has continued to publish these images to boost talkability around the upcoming launch.

By the time her album launches in March this will have all blown over and will have no detrimental affect on her sales. So, in music she’s winning. But there’s still a lot for the Queen to learn when it comes to digital marketing. Perhaps she needs a training session or two to understand where she’s going wrong?

The bottom line is that Madonna should have enough in the PR and marketing budget to create and deliver a considered plan of action. There is no reason for her to be leveraging other people’s pain, sadness and / or achievements to get a leg up – especially when she’s at the top of the ladder.

Leave those social media mistakes to the newbies!

Are Madonna’s Instagram antics offensive? Or, is the jury still out?


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