US Conservatives Increasingly Flee Twitter and Facebook for Upstart Parler

Membership surged from 4.5 million to 8 million in a week

Smartphone screenshots of the Parler app
Parler claimed the top spot on the iTunes App Store free apps chart and Google Play. Parler

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect new information about Parler’s owners.

The predominantly conservative user base of social media platform Parler may be stewing over the results of the presidential election in the U.S., but the opposite is likely true for the company’s owners—whoever they are.

The platform saw a spike in users, doubling from roughly 4.5 million members last week to about 8 million this week, and surging to 4 million active devices from 500,000 two weeks ago, according to Parler chief operating officer Jeffrey Wernick. He added that daily active devices are up approximately tenfold and session growth is up 20 times on the app.

An explosion in growth for Parler was fueled by users that felt Twitter and Facebook’s recent moves to clamp down on misinformation and hate speech were biased against conservatives.

Social media consultant Matt Navarra told Adweek that platforms that “alternative destinations” like Parler “become tarnished with that brush of being a place for these controversial, extreme views, opinions and content [that other platforms don’t allow and] that often many brands don’t want to be associated with and wouldn’t go anywhere near.”

He added that the potential for profitability by upstart platforms along the lines of Parler is thus curtailed. “The market for advertisers and brands willing to part with money and associate with those platforms, the creators and influencers on them and the things they’re putting out is far, far smaller,” Navarra said.

Parler was No. 7 among free iPhone apps in the U.S. on Nov. 7 before hitting the top spot the next day, Sensor Tower’s mobile insights strategist Stephanie Chan told Adweek. For comparison, the app was No. 1,023 on Nov. 2, the day before Election Day.

The pattern was the same on Google Play, where Parler went from No. 486 in overall app downloads on Nov. 2 to fifth on Nov. 8, reaching the top spot the next day.

The app was installed approximately 636,000 times from both the Apple and Google app stores in the U.S. on Nov. 8, according to estimates from Sensor Tower. That’s a record single-day high for Parler, dwarfing the previous mark of about 119,000 on June 26.

GroupM global president, business intelligence Brian Wieser did not address Parler specifically, but told Adweek, “In general, any seller of ad inventory that has meaningful scale still needs to ensure that it is viewed as brand safe in order to gain scale in ad sales. Overt association with a partisan point-of-view may limit the appeal of any given environment.”

While Parler’s user base of 8 million pales in comparison to Twitter’s 187 million daily active users or Facebook’s 1.82 billion daily active users, its pitch of championing “free speech” has made it a home for prominent conservative voices, such as Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Fox News host Sean Hannity, radio personality Mark Levin, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, California Rep. Devin Nunes, Trump campaign director Brad Parscale and Eric Trump.

While outgoing President Donald Trump does not have an active profile on Parler, campaign adviser Katrina Pierson said last week that Twitter would become “irrelevant” if Trump joined the upstart platform, according to Newsweek.

How it compares to competitors

For now, the platform does not carry ads, and CEO John Matze said in a June interview with Fox Business that Parler was not profitable. That same day, he told Fortune he planned to add advertising to the platform, along with an initiative where brands are matched with Parler influencers posting sponsored content on their behalf, with the company taking a cut. Parler provided no update on its advertising plans.


david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.
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