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Which top universities generate the most conversation on blogs?

Photo courtesy cliff1066 via Flickr

Last Conversation Piece by Juan Muñoz, South Shields, England. Photo courtesy cliff1066 via Flickr

Top colleges and universities have long competed for attention in national rankings, media coverage and scholarly journals. Now, a new arena has emerged in which they can be compared: blog buzz.

Colleges attract mentions on blogs and social networks in comments on every aspect of their campuses:  research, academic programs, student lifestyle, faculty, and athletics. I used the Cision Social Media Dashboard to track mentions in the 30 days to April 12 of the top 25 universities as ranked by U.S. News & World Report’s National Universities Rankings 2009.

The most talked-about institution, Harvard University, was mentioned in more than 30,000 blog posts, or more than 1,000 per day. In the private sector, most companies that generate that quantity of buzz don’t try to respond to every mention. Instead, they track whether a product announcement or press release seems to cause a spike in the volume of discussion, providing them with an additional measure of the return on their PR and marketing efforts.

Of course, not all of this chatter is positive all the time; a university can catch the eyes of bloggers with controversy as well. But reviewing the streams of conversation about these universities, I noticed that the great majority of it cited research or discussed campus events.

If you work in public relations for a university, we’d love to hear about whether you’re monitoring social media for conversation about your institution.

Top 25 American Universities by Volume of Blog Mentions

  1. Harvard University (1)
  2. Columbia University (8)
  3. Stanford University (4)
  4. University of Chicago (8)
  5. University of Pennsylvania (6)
  6. Yale University (3)
  7. Cornell University (14)
  8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (4)
  9. University of Virginia (23)
  10. Princeton University (2)
  11. University of Notre Dame (18)
  12. Northwestern University (12)
  13. Johns Hopkins University (15)
  14. Georgetown University (23)
  15. Brown University (16)
  16. University of California – Berkeley (21)
  17. Emory University (18)
  18. Washington University (12)
  19. Rice University (17)
  20. Carnegie Mellon University (22)
  21. Vanderbilt University (18)
  22. University of California – Los Angeles (25)
  23. Dartmouth College (11)
  24. California Institute of Technology (6)
  25. Duke University (8)

*Mentions on blogs in the 30 days to April 12, 2009 of the top 25 universities in U.S. News & World Report’s National Universities Rankings 2009. The university’s overall quality ranking given in parentheses.

Source: Cision Social Media Dashboard

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