I learned in third grade that I qualified as a concrete sequential person and as I have grown up, I have changed very little. I am very practical, organized (besides my office desk), and structured. I am a guy who goes by the numbers. You tell me something can’t be quantified and I will devise a way to do so, It is just my nature.
People like me put a lot of stock in rankings. We like to see lists of where people, organizations, things, teams, etc. stack up. It is a very clear and bottom line type way of assessing information. Some of the rankings I have paid especially close attention to throughout my life: Best in class (high school and college), FCS and FBS top 25, New York Times Best Seller list, Billboard top 100, world population year-by-year breakdown, world’s richest people, and then about five different sports statistical rankings that I follow religiously. Besides the best in class category as I am not in school anymore, these rankings captivate my interest as I check each one at least once a week, many of them much more than that. They are in an exclusive club in my mind’s hierarchy of importance, a level that is very difficult to get inside.
It is time to add one more.
In yet another example of how important social media is in intercollegiate athletics, a system now exists that ranks the top 200 schools according to their social media prowess. Using Facebook followers, Twitter followers, and Facebook interaction info, the Sports Fan Graph statistically assigns universities a ranking. Because I am in charge of social media for Grizzly Athletics at The University of Montana, I naturally took great interest in the poll once I heard of its existence. Although I knew in advance that we log the highest amount of people under the umbrella of our social media accounts in our conference, I had no idea how we stacked up on the whole FCS level, let alone the whole national level. It just so happens that we do quite well.
The Sports Fan Graph has The University of Montana ranked #53 in the country when it comes to social media. When it comes to all Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) schools, Montana is #1. Currently we rank higher than schools such as Arizona, Baylor, Boise State, Gonzaga, Stanford, and Washington State. We beat out Baylor, Boise State, Georgetown, Hawaii, Maryland, NC State, Nevada, and Connecticut. Conferences are included in the top 200 as well and the Griz rank above the Pac-12, Big East, and Mountain West just to name a few.
For the Griz to hold the #53 spot in the nation for social media is pretty significant. For a college with a much lower enrollment compared to other schools while also located in a state that is very densely populated, to beat out some of the “bigger names” so to speak is cool. But please don’t think I am using this platform to brag. We have our spot on the Sports Graph because of the fans of Griz Nation. Grizzly fans can’t get enough of their team and will support them in every way possible whether it be sitting in the stands, purchasing Griz gear, or following along on Twitter and Facebook. I invite anyone to surf onto any of our athletic Facebook pages and see that high volume of engagement, interaction, and passion that is generated by some of the best fans in the country.
Besides tracking the poll just to see where we rank, I love looking at the elite schools topping the list. Ohio State has always been known for ruling the social media world in intercollegiate athletics so it was no surprise when the Sports Graph confirmed them as #1. I marvel at the school’s Facebook following… 1,294,077 likes! Florida (#2) and Texas (#3) join the Buckeyes as the only other NCAA schools to top seven digits. I can’t begin to explain my envy for those types of numbers. How cool would it be to serve as the administrator of one of those pages and sit at your computer typing out a message knowing that you are about to hit over 1,000,000 people? Talk about power at your fingertips! I found it interesting that two basketball schools, North Carolina (#5) and Kentucky (#6), made the top ten. Even though they are powerhouse programs, I would have hypothesized that football powers would have occupied all of the top spots. Alabama claims the #4 spot with Oregon at #7, Wisconsin at #8, Oklahoma at #9, and Iowa at #10. If you look further down through the top 25 spots, you will see a list that pretty much resembles a football or basketball top 25 poll.
Thank you so much to the Sports Graph for making a tool for nerds like me. No matter if it is head-to-head competition, attendance figures, sports information content, merchandise sales, or social media, Montana always loves to see where it matches up on a national level. Although I have said this time and time again on this blog and although I know some people hate hearing it, let me repeat myself again: Social media is here to stay. Don’t Blink.