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Posted on Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 11:34 a.m.

Ranking: Web is abuzz over the University of Michigan

By Kellie Woodhouse

By now, most people in Ann Arbor know about the various top rankings University of Michigan has received.


Ann Arbor News file photo

Depending on the rating entity, a myriad colleges are somewhere in the nation's top 15 and U-M also has received top rankings for general undergraduate education, its international focus and graduate research. Some sources also say it's one of the nation's most bike-friendly universities and a top party school.

It turns out that U-M has floated to the top of yet another list: It's one of the most buzzed about universities on the Internet.

Buzzed about?

Yup. The Global Language Monitor scoured social media websites, the blogosphere and more than 175,000 media outlets to come up with an Internet "buzz" ranking.

At the top of the list is Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and the University of Chicago.

U-M ranks No. 13 on the list, behind fellow flagship public universities in California, Wisconsin and Texas, but ahead of Ohio State University and Indiana University.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


say it plain

Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 5:49 p.m.

Great to see you coming in to comment Ms. Miller! I presume that you are familiar with the site on which the article appears, '', as a place for PR and marketing and social media professionals to keep up with what's going on... I take it from your comments here, though, that you are *not* familiar with these rankings done by the Global Language Monitor group, seemingly one of the biggest monitors of language trends on the internet? I would love to hear your thoughts on the relationship between U-M's "world class (web) presence" and its "brand equity", given that this rubric is the one apparently applied to the ranking in question. Clearly, the head of GLM who put out this "ranking to be proud of" according to Ms. Barrett (and congratulations on being ranked #4 in the 'media savvy' survey for your work on student interaction! wow, amazing to be ranked so highly with so little time on the job thus far!), seems to believe that there are many challenges and changes afoot in the world of higher education. He mentions the "globalization" of it in one phrase, and focuses in the "buzz" ranking that is the main point of the article on how significant it is that MIT has thrown low-cost very "open" goods into the marketplace. I would also love to hear your thoughts on that! But I think I can see the niche being developed for UM, and I think it's fascinating that in conjunction with it, the governor (an alum!) and related officials are tossing out rhetoric about how we may need to relax immigration standards to improve the quality of our workforce. The image coming into focus I think may be of a "world class university" building a "world class socialmedia/web presence" to attract as many "worldly" (also, wealthy!) citizens of the globe to get degrees, and then stay on for the jobs we can't fill with the locals. Just a thought...

Jordan Miller

Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 1:03 a.m.

This is's forum, and probably not the best place for us to have this discussion (although it is an interesting one!). I don't want to start hijacking their comment threads. My new umich blog will be going live in the next few weeks, and I hope you'll participate there as well as here; I'll be able to go much further into detail and answer questions. If you'd like you can follow me on Twitter: @_jordanmiller_ and I'll announce when the blog goes live. And yes, I read Mashable :)

Jordan Miller

Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 4:59 p.m.

As the Social Media Director for the University of Michigan, we're proud of making the list, although our goal is to provide an easily navigable, transparent and responsive social media presence for the U-M community and across the web. I happen to agree that the article cited seems to have some holes, and I would be interested to know more about how data was gathered, defined and interpreted to reach those rankings. There seems to be more sum than substance. I appreciate all of the dialogue, and I hope that soon you'll be reading about all of the real work we're doing -- it's about much more than fads and the measurement of the moment. It's about creating a world-class presence for a world-class university. -- Jordan Miller, University of Michigan Social Media Director

JoAnn Barrett

Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 4:33 p.m.

Kellie, You should have read the entire article in Mashable that this was taken from. The news gets better. At the bottom of the page the University of Michigan was ranked #4 in the ranking of the Most Social Media Saavy Universities. They referenced the recent work done by the new Social Media Director in her approach to student interaction.


Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 6:13 a.m.

Who cares? How does this change the price of cheese?

Marvin Face

Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 3:43 a.m.

It is not University of Indiana, but rather Indiana University.

Kellie Woodhouse

Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

Thanks Marvin, for catching that. I've changed the wording.

Nick Danger

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

I would feel better about this if the U were a bit more incined to favor instate students rather than those from out of state and out of country with big bank accounts

say it plain

Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 6:01 p.m.

Well, @Frank, I hope that they are diligently working on that, what with their partnership with the Ann Arbor Public Schools to improve teacher- and student-education via the Scarlett-Mitchell program. I would love to see lots more of that sort of thing, but it might not fit so well with the overall "world-class university" image being cultivated lately!


Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

They probably would favor more in-state students, if more of them could graduate high school and read / spell more than their name.

say it plain

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 8:37 p.m.

Well, you know, "brand equity" isn't about doing well by your home state, after all, it's about global 'ranking'..."Brands" usually don't have ties to actual physical places. But at least UM doesn't outsource it's support services. Yet. Does it?!


Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 8:09 p.m.

Good buzz/bad buzz...There's been lots of bad buzz lately with regard to the UM's alleged cover-up of an alleged possessor of child porn...and the bad buzz about the UM's lackluster basketball season. This article has no measurable scientific validity. Sorry.

say it plain

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 8:04 p.m.

Okay, I am going to posit that the 'news' here isn't this silly promotion of UM's "ranking" in a meaningless word-count generator (if this "Language Monitor" merely looks for word-strings about colleges, then Penn State must have been pretty buzzy recently no?!), but rather the info contained and implied in the linked article... here is a little piece of it: ------------------------- MIT is the most-buzzed about university on the Internet, beating out its Massachusetts neighbor Harvard for the top spot. The Global Language Monitor's TrendTopper MediaBuzz rankings measure the brand equity of 210 universities and 200 colleges, using data from social media, the blogosphere, and more than 175,000 print and electronic media outlets. It's the first time a technological institution has come in first in the rankings, conducted every nine months. MIT propelled itself to the top through the announcement of its OpenCourseWare program, which allows students around the world to take advantage of MIT course offerings and earn certificates, free of charge. "The higher education world is in the midst of a major upheaval that has only begun to sort itself out," said Paul JJ Payack, Global Language Monitor president. "You can't have an institution of MIT's stature give away its product for free, or millions of students opting for on-line schools or educations provided by for-profit organization, and of course the globalization of higher ed and not record significant change." ---------------------- That the world of higher education is so completely a commodity, and that we're talking about 'brand equity' and how to monitor it via social-network 'indicators' and shoot we can really *buy* an MIT education online now?! Wow, just, wow. Social media directors and "news outlets" like this one need to get you to believe that there's something to the 'branding', and this story about the relative frequency on the internet of the alphanumeric string "UM" is pa

say it plain

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 8:12 p.m.

Oh wait, the problem for the rest of the world of higher education is that MIT is *giving away* their 'goods'!? Uhoh, that spells trouble!!! Open courseware? But people need to be spending upwards of 20K a year for that wisdom!!! I wonder how much of MIT's "buzz" was generated by the freaked-out members of the higher education community, and had the works "ruin everything" nearby! The internet and "open" everything has amazing potential to change the world for the better. But so much of the "buzz" counting work is dedicated to generating untenable profits for some, and to control the "buzz" these days is critically important, obviously!!

say it plain

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 8:04 p.m.

...part of it!


Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 7:18 p.m.

Even as a Badger, seeing UM getting a buzz is good --- I guess.


Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 7:17 p.m.

"but ahead of Ohio State University" I am confused, There is Ohio State University and then there is University of Ohio but Michigan wants to beat OHIO? Who is OHIO?


Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 6:45 p.m.

Well, it looks like it will fall to me to post the first congrats to the UM for yet another outstanding positive ranking. Once again the U demonstrates it's value to the State and the Nation as a premier educational resource, but locally it's ridiculed, demonized, and downright hated by many despite all that it brings to Ann Arbor specifically. It's the Michigan Difference - for most that is a great positive for others a way to vent spite. Be proud UM, Congrats once again, buzz on :)

say it plain

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

Do tell how commenting about a context-less arguably meaningless 'ranking' like "most buzzed about" counts as venting spite lol... I can argue that the rah-rah "all in for Michigan" without questioning in any way what they do, or fail to do, is a kind of "Michigan Difference" that is surely *not* a "great positive" at all. And not in the spirit of the good and great institution UM has been and can be, if it dared to buck some alarming trends in its quest to be "the leaders and the best".

Dog Guy

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

From what I remember of the 60's, U of M was plenty buzzed back then.


Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 5:08 p.m.

I took a look at some social measurement tools I have access to and actually, for raw mentions, U of M has far more mentions than MIT and the others. When you take out the sports references (and sales of U of M branded souvenir stuff) then U of M drops far down the list. Interesting.

say it plain

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

Hey new social media director at UM lol... Better get cracking on improving UM's "buzz" rating, and make sure lets us all know when you move UM ahead of Wisconsin forgoshsakes!!! Does this word-count algorithm for the 'blogosphere' aggregate near-by terms too, like, do you lose points for UM coming within a couple words of say 'sucks' , or is any 'buzz' good buzz :-) ? If any mention is cool, UM's recent med school controversy, with the pediatrician allowed to see patients even though he'd been caught by a colleague with porn on his flashdrive, might be just so bonus for the buzz-rating, woohoo! Indeed, perhaps 'porn' and UM in the same sentence works wonders for the ratings!