On A Very Silly Social Media List - the Top 100 Best and Most Collaborative Colleges

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, August 8, 2013

From HR's favorite list maker, Vala Afshar, comes his latest creation - "The Top 100 Best and Most Collaborative U.S. Colleges." (Hat tip to Laurie Ruettimann and John Hudson for bringing it to my attention).

According to Afshar, "the very best schools are also the most collaborative."  So why is this list incredibly silly?

1.  Let's start with the methodology.  According to Afshar,

I researched US News & World Reports list of the best schools. The 2013 national university rankings identified the top 100 universities in the U.S. I then re-ranked the schools based on their combined Klout and Kred scores - a measure of their engagements across all major social platforms.

Let's make an assumption that Kred and Klout scores are legitimate for our purposes.  Unfortunately, Afshar doesn't provide the combined scores for making a comparison.   While he provides an average Klout score and Kred score, he does not tell the audience how he combined the scores.   Are they added together? If so, Klout is on a 100 point scale and Kred is made up of two parts - a 1,000 point Influence scale and a 12 point Outreach scale.  Were the scales adjusted to reflect equal weight? 

Further, what is the threshold score to be considered one of the top 100 best AND most collaborative schools in the U.S.?  While the average Klout score of those 35 schools in the small college category might be 74, what is the variability?  Harvard at #1 has a Klout score of 99.  Meanwhile, Colorado School of Mines only has a Klout score of 47, a far cry from 74. In fact, the bottom 10 schools in the list of 35 do not have a Klout score near 74.  

Finally, instead of an exhaustive look at over 6,000 colleges and universities in the United States to determine which colleges are the most engaged and, perhaps, collaborative, based on the combination of these scores, Afshar simply looked at ONLY U.S. News and World Reports top 100 to make his list.  Are there others who might be more collaborative?  More engaged?  One wouldn't come to that judgment based on this list.

As a point of comparison,
On the list
Colorado School of Mines: Klout score of 47, Kred score of 694/4
Stevens: Klout score of 49, Kred score of 706/5

Not on the list 
Swarthmore  College (the #3 ranked Liberal Arts College): Klout score of 55, Kred score of 740/6
St. Norbert College (my school and #138): Klout score of 52, Kred score of 744/6

One might want to check out the list of top Social Media Colleges over at StudentAdvisor.com for comparison purposes.

2.   Is there a relationship between school ranking and social rank?

Even if we give credence to Afshar's methodology, does his claim that "Not surprisingly, the very best schools are also the most collaborative"carry any weight?  For this to be credible, we should see some sort of linear relationship between social rank and school ranking (i.e., those with a higher school ranking should also be at the top of the social rank list; we should see significant overlap between the top 10 or top 20 or top 50).   Check out the scatterplot below (with U.S. News ranking on the x-axis and social rank on the y-axis:

Do you see ANY sort of relationship whatsoever between social rank and school rank?  Any? 

Even if one runs a correlation on the two variables, one only gets a correlation coefficient of .32, which indicates a weak to middling relationship at best.

Very silly, indeed.



A scatterplot? This is heady SPHR stuff, indeed.

by laurie on August 8, 2013 at 11:34 AM. #

It's good that you write about it.
adultwork London

by ben on January 9, 2019 at 7:18 AM. #

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