The University of Michigan was ranked the number one college in a recent survey based on measurements of social media mentions and Internet traffic according to an independent national analysis, topping Harvard University, previously ranked number one, and accompanying UW-Madison in the top 10.

“We wanted to measure what people mean when they say ‘it’s a good school.’ A school’s name is a trademark. College names become brands and we want to measure the strength of that brand,” said Paul Payack, The Global Language Monitor president and chief word analyst.

Schools are ranked based on the number of times they are cited in electronic databases, social media and blogs among other forms of media, Payack said. Some schools receive hundreds of millions of citations and the survey has found the number of citations usually positively correlates to a college or university’s academic prestige.

“We were worried schools that predominated in sports would dominate in citations, but that’s not the case. MIT, which was ranked second, has no big sports, unless you count tiddlywinks,” Payack said.

According to Payack, Harvard lost 20 percent of its citations from the last time the survey was conducted. While they still received an incredible amount of citations, the decrease is significant.

That drop, Payack added, has to do with more and more students looking to public universities where they can get a good education for less than they would at pay at Harvard or other private universities.

“As a public university, we’re always trying to tell our stories and successes to as many audiences as we can. If there’s an audience to share our successes with, we want to connect with them,” said John Lucas, UW spokesperson.

Because the survey is based on information gathered from the blogosphere and other technology, Brian Rust, communications director at UW Division of Information Technology, said UW’s high standing in the survey is indicative that UW is a contemporary user of social media.

“UW is a solid education and a world-class university,” Payack said.

Although UW fell from sixth to seventh in the survey from April 2009 to November 2009, it still retained its place in the top 10.