Social Media

Social Media: An Overview

We all hear the term social media used daily, but how it’s defined can change based on who you’re talking to. For purposes of this web page and the resources below, we’re referring to communication tools and strategies that utilize social networking and social sharing platforms. The social media resources below can be utilized to create, share and exchange information about your college access program and about the realities of college attainment in our country.


The following summary is used with permission from the Michigan College Access Network’s Communication Planning Toolkit (page 17).


Utilizing social media tools and services is a college access program’s way to engage with your audiences in a more personal connection. A college access program can use social media tools to enhance traditional communication efforts, spur community conversation, and promote upcoming events, tips and resources related to college access. Just like traditional engagement tools, you must consider your audience before selecting a social media tool.


Social media tools are constantly changing. Whether it is a new social media tool that has gained popularity or old, it is important you be familiar with social media tools available and which are utilized by the audience(s) you intend to reach. If your college access program chooses to adopt social media tools, it is important you understand and build in the appropriate time to effectively manage your social media presence. It is more important the organization implements one or two social media tools well rather than dabbling in every tool that is popular.


95% of teens (12-17) use the Internet and 81% of them use social media sites. Currently, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the most heavily adopted with 94% reporting they have a Facebook profile, 26% using Twitter, and 11% utilizing Instagram (Source: Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 2013). Engage students about where they want to go to school, what they are doing to get there and questions or concerns they have.


Campaign Examples

FAFSA Completion

The Department of Education launched a new FAFSA completion initiative to give more Americans the opportunity to afford, attend, and graduate from college. Social media was utilized to support the initiative.

Social Media Editorial Calendar – The following resource is an example editorial calendar to plan ahead the content you wish to share on platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

FAFSA Completion Editorial Calendar – NCAN Member, Michigan College Access Network, developed this calendar to ensure FAFSA completion was promoted on a weekly basis via Facebook and Twitter.

Thankful 4 Pell

NCAN encouraged member organization to join the #Thankful4Pell campaign November 17 – 20, 2014. Members were encouraged to share with the world – as well as Congress – the importance of the Pell Grant to their community. Participants utilized #Thankful4Pell and used a common profile photo within social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter.


One-Pager Example Posts - This resource is an example one-pager with sample social media posts (all Twitter length).

Reach Higher
The Reach Higher initiative is the First Lady’s effort to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university. Social media is regularly utilized to support the initiative.

#ReachHigher – The Reach Higher initiative encourages individuals to take a photo in their college T-shirt and Instagram it, Facebook it or Tweet it with the hashtag #ReachHigher during National College Signing Day on May 1.

Follow @ReachHigher on Twitter

Follow @ReachHigher2020 on Instagram

American College Application Campaign

The American College Application Campaign (ACAC) is a national effort to increase the number of first-generation students and students from low-income families pursuing a college degree or other higher education credentials. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have embraced the national campaign to increase the number of college applications completed by seniors. Social media is utilized to support the campaign and encourage students to announce where they have applied.

#IApplied – Participating states were encouraged to utilize the common hashtag #IApplied during their college application campaigns. View this example from Michigan College Application Week.