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Pop Queen Social Media: Expectation vs. Reality

Philip Ramey, Corbis via Getty Images

Social media has changed how pop stars appear to us forever.

Whether your fave is doing sponsored content for cookies or starting another beef with their rivals, social media has allowed our pop queens the chance to be both more real than ever before — and also sell us stuff non-stop. But what do we even want from our pop queens on social media? And do some of them deliver beyond even our expectations?

It’s time for a game of Pop Queen Social Media: Expectation vs. Reality.


Portrait of Cher
LGI Stock/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images


Heritage acts like Cher usually have a pretty banal social media presence. Regular links to buy merchandise and concert tickets, throwback posts with copy and photo selected by a social media intern and the occasional thank you tweet to a younger pop queen. That’s sort of what you might expect from Cher’s Twitter account.


Thank goodness for whoever decided to let Cher have her own Twitter password. Emoji laden rants about politics, animal rights, trying to please her fanbase and the reality of touring, makeup free selfies and a syntax all her own pepper this hilarious page. Cher on Twitter is a delight, an unexpected platform for a true pop icon to show us how smart, thoughtful and with it she truly is. Legendary.


Julien's Auctions' Music Icons, Legends And Rebels Exhibit Press Preview
Rob Kim, Getty Images

Expectation: Curt, yet verbose posts about art galleries, books and passion projects of pop’s most controversial star. Elegant pictures of a back catalogue of gowns and iconic costumes from tours and projects of yesteryear. Links to carefully curated new music to show that Madonna is still aware of the next big thing.

Baptism in the Blue Water Yo!

A post shared by Madonna (@madonna) on

Viva Los Oscars! ♥️

A post shared by Madonna (@madonna) on

I'm not gonna lie! Today was totally AWESOME!

A post shared by Madonna (@madonna) on

Reality: An instagram account so messy and emoji heavy it almost feels like a commentary on social media itself. Expect selfies all taken from that one weird angle (who told Madonna this was the best way to take a photo?), sharing fan art of somewhat questionable merits (ahem) and occasionally quite adorable snaps of her kids. Madonna’s Instagram account (the content for which is also shared on her Twitter page) is both a weirdly sloppy presence for someone so controlling of her image and also oddly charming as a result. Well, somebody has to keep using the hashtag #RebelHeart in 2017.


The 58th GRAMMY Awards - Press Room
Jason LaVeris, FilmMagic

Expectation: Thinly veiled subtweets about former boyfriends to give fans clues about the new album, screenshots of “I just think it’s funny how…” iPhone Notes app ramblings aimed at other celebs, and humble brag selfies holding one of 180 million Grammys.

Thankful for piggy back rides @lilydonaldson

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

Happy birthday, you precious little angel!! @camila_cabello

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

Reality: Much like her media presence, Swift is highly thought out on social media. Bar the odd would-be clapback at Kim and Kanye, Swift keeps the post minimal, briefly referring to world events but largely sticking to promo tweets. Instagram lets Swift seem candid, but ultimately in control, sharing plugs for pals like Lorde and cute cat videos. Still, Swift’s sparing use of social media is a reminder she’s adept at maintaining her image at all times.


Lady Gaga Makes Appearance At Polaroid Booth At 2011 CES Convention
Steven Lawton, FilmMagic

Expectation: Gaga’s own pop career came of age during the rise of Twitter, meaning you’d expect her to be fluent in the medium from how to engage with fans to plugging her latest project bet it an album, a tour or a brand team-up.

Warming up

A post shared by xoxo, Joanne (@ladygaga) on

Reality: Gaga’s social media presence is partly pop star hustle (feeling your #JoanneVibes yet?), part earnest look behind the mask. A pop star frantically declaring a “POP MUSIC EMERGENCY” as she did when “Applause” leaked and trying to tackle her own bad press by declaring “I write for the music not the charts” is one who isn’t afraid to be a bit all over the place on social media. To quote another famous Joanne (and queen of social media), Gaga is a “real messy bitch who lives for drama.” (Just kidding, LG!)


The 40th American Music Awards - Show
Michael Tran, FilmMagic

Expectation: Tweets about how Bionic still hasn’t gotten its due, updates on release dates for new material, humblebrag video clips of Xtina doing jaw-dropping high notes while just hanging out at home, etc.

Love my glam team ❤️❤️

A post shared by Christina Aguilera (@xtina) on

Reality: Copious plugs for ad campaigns with Oreo, occasional hints about a new record and the odd shout-out to her glam squad. If only Xtina circa 2003, who shaded all her contemporaries in interviews, had been on Twitter. Sigh.


Britney Spears' New Album "In The Zone" CD Signing
Bill Davila, FilmMagic

Expectation: Canned promo tweets, the occasional selfie, and perhaps some bog-standard throwback posts featuring classic music videos to help plug her soon-closing Vegas show.

Sometimes I do impressions…

A post shared by Britney Spears (@britneyspears) on

What's better than sweats and a tshirt?

A post shared by Britney Spears (@britneyspears) on

Training keeps me motivated and inspired… but I'd rather be dancing

A post shared by Britney Spears (@britneyspears) on

Reality: Britney’s Twitter is pretty standard, peppered with the odd goofy video of the pop queen with her kids or working out. But her Instagram page is chock full of memes your mom would share on Facebook, interesting pictures that give a “Britney’s secret Pinterest account” vibe, and even some videos with her new man. It’s hard to know the rhyme or reasoning behind Britney’s Instagram, but it’s a strange delight.


The 59th GRAMMY Awards - Red Carpet
John Shearer, Getty Images

Expectation: Tirades and good-natured rants about life woes in the vein of Adele’s always charming interviews, tweets about her nerves before a big arena show, and maybe the occasionally “Oh FACK OFF” style beef with an annoying troll.

Adelaide, SA / Adelaide Oval / Mar 13

A post shared by Adele (@adele) on

Perth, WA / Domain Stadium / Feb 28

A post shared by Adele (@adele) on

Dallas, TX / American Airlines Center / Nov 1

A post shared by Adele (@adele) on

Reality: Sadly, much of Adele’s charming personality is missing from social media. The notoriously private star keeps plenty to herself, and although her carefully curated Instagram is nice to look at, you can’t help but wonder what Adele would tweet if she could let loose. She did recently reveal she had a secret Twitter account, so maybe 2017 is the year the real Adele appears on social media?


Rihanna 777 Tour In Berlin
arget Presse Agentur Gmbh, Getty Images

Expectation: Both a popstar with more hits than most and one the least likely to do something safe, you would expect Rihanna to go from gleefully pushing her fashion collections to bragging about her chart success — and popping off the odd tweet calling the U.S. president “an immoral pig.”

the making of…. Happy #ANTiversary

A post shared by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

#VOTE bih

A post shared by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

#StuntBackSundays #StillMood

A post shared by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

Reality: Um, duh, just that. This is the pop star whose Instagram got removed for posting topless photoshoots. This is the pop star who started beef with Ciara on Twitter. And this is the pop star who knows the power of fulfilling fan expectations both online and onstage.

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