Mailbag: What about Parler?

December 14, 2020By Andy Johns

Mailbag will be an ongoing, occasional feature on the blogs for Pioneer, WordSouth and ARC. If you have questions you’d like to see addressed, please email andy@wordsouth.com or mmckoynoe@pur.coop.

Mailbag Question:

I’m hearing about folks signing up for the social media platform Parler. Should my utility be there as well?

Answer:

A few of our friends at electric co-ops have asked about the social media platform Parler and whether or not they should create a presence there. Because any conversation of Parler is wrapped in heavy political overtones, I was a little hesitant to address this topic. Our mission at Pioneer, ARC and WordSouth is to help our member and partner utilities communicate with their audiences, so any political commentary outside of that arena seems destined to only stir up controversy.
So understand that my advice here is purely practical and not political. It’s intended as a way to help those struggling with this question and not to make any kind of political statement.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, our suggestion is no, you should not set up a Parler account for your utility. At least not yet.

While the communication pros at ARC, Pioneer and WordSouth are always on the lookout for new communication trends and marketing opportunities, this is one where we suggest putting your time, energy and dollars into the established platforms with the widest appeal and most users.

As of Dec. 14, 2020, Parler is currently too small to be worth your time and attention. At this point we don’t know if Parler will become a right-leaning but mainstream alternative to Facebook, quickly fade away as a flash-in-the-pan like Google+ or devolve into a dark corner of the internet. We just don’t know. 

That’s why our suggestion is to leave it alone for now.

“Focus where the greatest number of your members are: Facebook,” ARC Media co-founder and social media guru Gus Wagner said. “Despite claims, the Facebook user numbers have not dropped, and our clients’ reach and engagement numbers on that platform appear to be rising after the election.”

In the “flash-in-the-pan” scenario that sees a quick rise and fall for Parler, this wait-and-see approach will save you the time and effort of creating an account and producing content that few will see.

In the “dark corner of the internet” scenario where free speech turns hateful, our wait-and-see suggestion saves your brand any embarrassment from having been associated with such a platform.

In the event that Parler becomes a mainstream platform in the social media world, you will still have plenty of time to create a presence and reach your members and customers there. Looking purely at the numbers, Parler has “surged” to 8 million users since the election. Facebook on the other hand has 2.6 billion users each month while Twitter averages 166 million monthly users.

“Focus on what works,” Wagner said. “What works is Facebook.”

-Andy Johns
Director of Marketing

Do you have marketing or communication topics you’d like to see answered? Email your questions to andy@wordsouth.com or mmckoynoe@pur.coop to be featured in this recurring feature.

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