We talk a lot about why it’s important to have an online social calendar for your organization, but what do users think?

We surveyed users at Cornell University, University of Delaware, McDaniel College and Towson University to hear what they had to say. Hundreds of people shared their thoughts on everything from how they decided what college to attend to how they plan events while at college.

We have summarized their responses and added our insights in hopes that you can learn how to more effectively engage your community online.

1. When making your decision to attend college, how important was your understanding of the social scene on campus?

78% of students said understanding the social scene on campus was important to them. Human beings act tribally, and thus social features strengthen your calendar. How social is your calendar?

2. How did you research the social scene?

81% of respondents used online media to research the social scene at the colleges they were considering. 54% of respondents visited school websites to do this, while 27%
visited school social networks. When it comes to attracting prospective students, social media is important, but not as important as a dynamic, engaging website.

3. How do you currently make social plans now that you’re attending college?

The #1 way students currently hear about events, when they’re not hearing about them from friends, is their school’s online calendar. While students still learn about events from text messaging, Facebook friends, in-person conversations, and yes, even old-fashioned phone calls, the school’s online calendar is an important official communication channel for events.

4. How would you like to learn about upcoming events?

70% of respondents said they would like to learn about upcoming events via a calendar on their school’s website. Online calendars are the most popular option for learning
about events.You may be surprised to learn that the second most popular option for learning about events is via email newsletters. 58% of respondents would like to hear about events this way. Coming in third is Facebook, chosen by 54% of respondents. Twitter was only chosen by 20%, showing that while social media is a nice complement to a robust calendar and email newsletter, it’s far from the most important method of communicating events. Also of note, only 26% said they’d like to hear about events from a shared Google Calendar. If a shared Google Calendar is your central hub for events, it’s time to rethink your approach.

We’d suggest that you send an email reminding users about trending events once a week. Event emails are popular: across all emails sent by Localist customers, we see a
9% click through rate. This is almost triple the average click through rate of 3.41% for the higher education industry. And Localist makes it easy to integrate email
communications with your events calendar! We’re always here to assist if you haven’t yet deployed the email functionality contained within Localist.

5. What are the most useful features of your school’s website?

54% of respondents indicated that the calendar was one of the most useful features on their school’s website. Calendars were edged out in popularity only by academic information. Give users what they want by providing prominent positioning for your calendar on the homepage and other appropriate areas throughout your website.

6. How did you find out about the school calendar?

73% of respondents found out about their school’s calendar via the school’s website. Only 8% found out via word of mouth. Also of note, only 13% of respondents found out about the calendar via email. Students look to your school to guide them—don’t assume word of mouth will get the job done! Word of mouth is good for finding out about a single event, but your website is the best channel for students to find out about the calendar itself. We also suggest that you use email more effectively to raise the number of engaged users at your school. As we know from Question 4, a majority of students like to hear about events via email, so these emails will be well-received.

7. How helpful is the school events calendar?

89% of students find the events calendar a helpful addition to the school’s website. This is a huge vote for a central, social, online calendar. If your calendar isn’t up to par, you are doing users a disservice.

8. What are your favorite features of your school’s current calendar?

The most liked feature was the ability to see all events in one place, which won a vote of confidence from 56% percent of respondents. The second most liked feature was the
ease of seeing featured events. Place all of your events in one centralized calendar. Not only does this provide users with what they’re looking for, it also makes life easier for administrators. Additionally, display and prioritize information based on what’s interesting, not what’s next. Localist has powerful curation for showing featured events.

9. How would you like to log into your school calendar?

53% of respondents prefer to log in with their school IDs. The second most popular option was email, which was chosen by 28% of respondents. Don’t invest in a calendar that forces users to create separate accounts to use advanced features like submitting events. Instead, invest in a system that integrates with your authentication system. Also, consider opening up your calendar for prospective students, alumni, and parents to participate—this is a great way to engage them!

10. How important is it that you can see who is attending events?

60% of users think it’s important that they can use the school’s online calendar to see who is attending an event. Localist is the only online calendar platform that shows who is attending. Are you giving users what they want?

11. How could the school calendar be improved?

60% of students indicated that they’d like to see more details on events, while 47% would simply like to see more events. Also of note, 42% of students want a mobile version of their school’s calendar. Users want enough information about events so they can decide what’s important to them. Invest in a system that makes it easy to add large amounts of content with features like bulk uploading. To go mobile, if you’re an existing Localist customer, you can build a mobile wrapper for Localist and support this at no additional cost! Contact us for help with this. Or you can check out Tailgate, our new mobile app, for more advanced mobile functionality.

12. What features would you want in a mobile calendar app?

79% of respondents want to see event details on a mobile app, and 58% indicated they’d like to be able to see events near them. While those features were the clear front-runners, here are a few that were also popular:
• Options to share events easily
• Integration with the device’s calendar app
• Ability to “Check In” to an event

Tailgate was built to deliver these features, ensuring a great experience for users who are on-the-go. With 42% of students interested in a better mobile version, make sure you’re providing a mobile calendar that meets their needs.

We know we’ve just given you a lot of data. It’s ok. Take a deep breath. Below, we recap
the 5 biggest takeaways from this survey:

1. Your school’s online presence is extremely important for not just current, but prospective students. 81% of students research a school’s social scene online, and 78% of students see the social scene as an important factor in their decision of where to attend college. Does your website show a vibrant social community?

2. Students rely on the school’s online calendar to learn about events. 70% of students indicated that they’d like to learn about events via the school calendar. In fact, after word of mouth, the school calendar was the most popular way for students to learn about events. Is your calendar up to the job?

3. Don’t forego email for social. 54% of students indicated they’d like to hear about upcoming events via Facebook, and 58% indicated they’d like to hear about events via an email newsletter. Social media is important, but not quite as important as email! How well does your school balance time invested in email communications versus social media communications?

4. Social is more than social media. 60% of students indicate that being able to use the school’s calendar to see who’s attending an event is important. Does your calendar have social features built into it beyond simply integrating with Facebook and Twitter?

5. Get ready to go mobile. 42% of current students want a fully featured mobile calendar experience, and this number is expected to significantly grow with the popularity of mobile devices. Does your school have a plan to take your calendar mobile?