We are clearly fans of a good social media fail. It’s not only that they are entertaining, but because, more importantly, when we are done reveling in schadenfreude, we recognize the lessons and opportunities each one presents.
Executing grand scale, innovative, effective social media campaigns really well is not easy. Sometimes, it’s more important to recognize and acknowledge effort put forth, rather than the outcome.
Madonna tried to premiere a new music video for her single “Ghosttown” on live-streaming app Meerkat this week, and people were quick to write it off as a fail. And it was, a little.
Meerkat was a breakout hit at SXSW, but Twitter launched its own rival app, Periscope, shortly after, and cut off Meerkat’s access to Twitter’s API. The two dueling apps are barely a month old, but Periscope appears to be the clear winner, especially in the entertainment realm. On the day of its debut, Katy Perry (who also happens to be the most-followed musician on Twitter) participated in a Periscope session. She was quickly followed by artists like Ringo Starr, Questlove, and David Guetta.
The video was teased on Tidal, Jay-Z’s brand new streaming service (Madonna is also a partner) and Madonna’s official Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. However, when the Tuesday premiere time rolled around, most fans saw an error message.
Streaming issues bungled the premiere again on Wednesday, and eventually the video was uploaded to YouTube and Tidal.
Should Madonna’s team have gone with Periscope over Meerkat? Yes, definitely. Should the reaction be as harsh? Probably not. Being an early adapter of any new technology is risky. At least she tried, and a little credit should be given for that.
We should give Madonna a little credit for attempting to have a strong presence on social media to begin with. The Meerkat debacle is not her first attempt at social media innovation. In February, she used Snapchat’s Discover tab to debut her video for “Living for Love,” the first artist to do so. Also earlier this year, the icon partnered with gay dating app Grindr for a chance to win a special chat session.
Social media is imperative for 21st century promotion. It’s second nature for artists of the Millennial generation, but what about Baby Boomers? Not every execution Madonna has made has been good (her Rebel Heart series on Instagram is another post in itself) but few other entertainers of her caliber or age are making the effort.
Cher’s tweets are entertaining, but useless. Stevie Nicks was briefly and sporadically on Instagram, but that fizzled out faster than it launched. Most iconic, still working entertainers, like the Rolling Stones or Fleetwood Mac, do the bare minimum (if even) on social, tweeting links to Live Nation and press coverage when necessary.
Madonna could do the same thing, easily resting on her own reputation and legacy and traditional PR efforts as a way to promote, but instead, she’s chosen to take risks, seeing the potential social media has in the evolving landscape of media and entertainment. For that, we should applaud her effort to adapt and embrace new technology rather than criticize it.