In college, students are challenged to write 20-page essays and fill out those dreaded blue books to demonstrate their critical-thinking prowess. But Hillary Clinton knows how the real world works after you graduate. Throw words aside and put that energy into choosing the best emojis. 

The Democratic front-runner has added tackling student loan debt to her political agenda. She has trumpeted her $350 billion education plan in speeches, and she has taken it to the Web with a broad social media campaign. Earlier this week, she released a 2-minute YouTube video featuring Americans sharing their stories of student debt.

On Tuesday, Twitter was the Clinton campaign's medium of choice. Clinton asked her 4 million-plus Twitter followers to express themselves about student loan debt.

Twitter and social media in general have become an inescapable form of campaign communication. The 2008 election became the YouTube election, and 2012, the Facebook election. While Twitter does not have its own election cycle to claim, every candidate is expected to have an account in order to reach voters, and they do

Candidates have tweeted out comebacks to their opponents and quotes from their speeches. Some tweets have calls to action, as in signing up for an event and donating to the campaign. But some -- like Clinton's emoji tweet -- are pooling constituent feedback. Typically, campaigns will employ a hashtag, although Chris Christie's #TellingItLikeItIs hashtag was an example of just how much that can go wrong

Social analytics sites like Topsy can analyze the text of responses to see how positive or negative the tweeted replies are. But for Clinton's call-out, there are no words to compare -- thus, no data. Instead, the campaign retweeted responses they saw as positive. 

But not every follower was throwing out the sad face: 

Tuesday evening, Clinton threw up her hands.

Still, Clinton's digital strategy is far more sophisticated than when she ran against Barack Obama in 2008. Then, she launched her campaign with an impersonal YouTube video, while Obama's digitally savvy team delved into how to effectively employ each network with real ad money and active use. Clinton, like many of her competitors, seems to be trying to take the same path. 

She's now on every active social media network. Earlier this week, Clinton launched her official Snapchat account -- choosing to enter a little later than her Republican contenders. But her feed is well executed, showing a sense of humor about herself and her messaging.

Insert happy-face emoji here?  Nah.


hillary clinton snapchat Hillary Clinton launched her Snapchat account on August 9, 2015. She's since used the app on the campaign trail in New Hampshire and to highlight her student loan relief plan. Photo: Snapchat Screenshots

This story was updated at 8:00 to include Clinton's late tweet.