Millions of middle schoolers can rest easy, Snapchat is still cool despite Sen. Rand Paul’s best effort to make it less so. On Wednesday the Republican senator from Kentucky joined the popular photo sharing app, even posting two “snaps”–a desk selfie and a sophomoric joke aimed at the NSA. Trendsetter he is not.
“I don’t know whether his core audience of gun users and CEOs are using Snapchat,” said Matthew McGregor, who led the digital rapid response team for President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign.
For McGregor, who’s currently the political director of the media strategy firm Blue State Digital, it’s about how the politician and the platform work together. “The president of Chechnya is a fantastic InstaGram user,” he said, “but that doesn’t mean that all politicians should be all over Instagram.”
Zac Moffatt, Mitt Romney’s digital director in 2012, disagreed. He said Paul might be onto something.
“If you want to talk to young people you have to constantly evolve,” said Moffatt. “You’re going to where the communities are.” Facebook and Twitter are still the best bets for engaging political constituents, Moffatt explained, calling Snapchat, which deletes a user’s post as soon as it’s opened, “a tangential touch.”
“It doesn’t pass the laugh factor,” said Andrew Rasiej, founder of Personal Democracy Media, which studies the intersection of technology and politics. So Snapchat users shouldn’t expect to see more 50-year-old members of Congress on their friends list anytime soon. “Politicians signing up to use Snapchat is about as politically meaningful as kissing a digital baby.”