By Michael Smith, Staff Writer via

ESPN’s Notre Dame-Michigan game last week not only drew the highest TV ratings of the day, but it also won the day on Twitter.

Michigan officials know this because they followed the number of mentions on Twitter through a Nielsen product called Social Guide. The social media monitoring tool is like a Nielsen rating for a TV program’s activity on Twitter.

It showed that the Michigan-Notre Dame broadcast generated 286,000 tweets during the window of just more than three hours. That’s more mentions on Twitter than any other TV program on Sept. 7, according to Nielsen.

The Wolverines are the first college client to sign up for Nielsen’s Twitter tracking. Nielsen already has clients that include professional sports teams and sports networks, and is looking to expand in the college space.

For $1,500 a month, Michigan officials can learn just about everything about their Twitter traffic when one of their games is on TV.

“It tracks and benchmarks everything,” said Jordan Maleh, Michigan’s director of digital marketing. “On something like a TweetDeck, you can see conversations directly related to you. Social Guide is like that on steroids. It sees anything and everything related to Michigan.”

On the night of the Notre Dame game, two Michigan employees monitored the Twitter activity in the press box on their computer screens through Social Guide, which updates the activity every few seconds. That enables Maleh’s team to interact in real time with the people who are tweeting about the game.

There was Dick Costolo, Twitter’s CEO and a Michigan fan, directing an in-game tweet to fellow Wolverine Desmond Howard in front of more than 1 million followers. Fab Fiver Jalen Rose took to Twitter to tell his 1.1 million followers that he was in the Big House. And then there was Kenny Hamilton, better known as Justin Bieber’s bodyguard, sharing a thought on Eminem’s appearance with his 1.9 million followers.

“For us, it provides a great way to measure how impactful we are on social media,” Maleh said. “This lets us know who our ambassadors on Twitter are and who the influencers are, based on their number of followers. … Nobody knew that Eminem was going to be in the ESPN booth that night, and we would have missed a lot of those tweets about him being at the game without Social Guide.”

Other information the Wolverines learned that night:
■ There were 286,000 Michigan-Notre Dame tweets.
■ Michigan’s official Twitter account, @UMichfootball, was the most mentioned team or event handle across all TV programming, with 12,362 tweets. Notre Dame (@NDfootball) ranked 13th.
■ The top five TV programs with the most tweets that day were all college football games.

Nielsen’s Stephen Master, senior vice president of sports, said that sporting events and other live programming, such as awards shows, tend to generate the most Twitter activity. Only 1.3 percent of all TV programs are sports, but half of all the social activity on Twitter is related to sports.

On the Saturday of the Notre Dame-Michigan game, 15 percent of the tweets across 240-plus channels of programming were about the Irish and the Wolverines during that broadcast window.

“Most people know who’s in their stadium, but there are many millions more engaging with the Michigan game over social media,” Master said. “In a way, you can look at your key influencers, the people who have thousands of followers, the same as your suite holders in the stadium. That’s your focus group, your fan council, the people you can interact with on a real-time basis.”