Griz Social Media Ranked Nationally

Much to my enjoyment I got word today that the Grizzly Athletics Social Media program had made a very exclusive list. Thrown in with schools like Ohio State, Florida, Oregon, Alabama, and the other BCS giants, the Montana Grizzlies are represented on the Top 50 NCAA Social Media Rankings list conducted by Sports Fan Graph. Talk about making my day!

Okay, so I do have to admit that Montana is #50 overall on the list but that does not take anything away from the achievement. There is one social media short list in the nation that ranks NCAA schools according to their social media prowess and the Griz are on that list. Our school is not just the only Big Sky Conference institution on the list, it is the only FCS institution on the list. Better yet, there are 120 BCS schools in the country. That means that Griz Nation has a social media campaign that is better than 70+ mostly bigger, better funded, and higher staffed schools around the United States. I can legitimately say Montana beats out over 70+ schools because conferences are also allowed on the top 50 list and the Big 12, ACC, and Big 10 are all on it. That means with conferences taken out of the discussion, Montana would have the 47th ranked social media program in the nation and thus sit in front of 73 other BCS schools.

Griz Social Media is in some pretty good company.

Griz Social Media is in some pretty good company.

To back track just a little bit, if you remember me referencing this list a little over a year ago you are not going crazy. In October of 2012, schools across the country started to make mention of Sports Fan Graph. The organization had ranked schools and teams from college to all of the major professional leagues on their social media programs using a formula involving Facebook likes, Facebook interaction info, and Twitter followers. When it came to the NCAA, they ranked the top 200 schools! At the time, Griz Social Media was ranked #53. Fast forward a year later and anyone knowledgeable in social media will tell you that Grizzly Athletics moving up three whole spots instead of regressing is a big accomplishment.

I am proud to rock our Griz Social Media t-shirts.

I am proud to rock our Griz Social Media t-shirts.

You see, over the past year, athletic departments across the country have really started to go all-in on social media like never before. Athletics directors have finally woken up. They realize that social media is the new and most effective way to report, market, and inform fans about an athletic program. Time, involvement, and care with social media has skyrocketed. Many schools are starting to hire staff members who work solely on social media and nothing else. With the major emphasis on social initiatives by many of the major schools one might have expected the Griz to fall down the rankings.

It didn’t happen.

Instead, Griz Social Media improved and jumped enough spots so that when the Sports Fan Graph chopped its long list of 200 schools down to a short and exclusive list of just 50 schools, the institution located in western Montana with an enrollment of just 14,000 students was on it. The reason why Montana was able to achieve so much success against increased competition centers on a social media program that focuses on creativity, staying ahead of the curve, reporting 24/7, and relying on something pretty important…


You can have Mark Zuckerberg run the social media program at any school in the nation but if he doesn’t have a fan base that is passionate, supportive, and hungry for information he won’t succeed enough to have his school land on a list such as this. The fans who support the University of Montana are off the charts and it extends all the way through to social media. They bring the passion on a daily basis through their smart phones and keyboards to make everything social in our athletic department a big success. Thanks for once again putting UM on a national list, Griz Nation! Don’t Blink.

Part of the National Discussion: Griz Social Media

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.

Do what my shirt says and please FOLLOW THE GRIZ! (@UMGRIZZLIES).

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.