Imagine this: You’ve spent months preparing for your event. You’ve pushed announcements out on social media, secured sponsorships and worked hard to ensure everything day-of is in place. But something’s missing. What? The secret weapon that leads to events that are more discoverable, attended and enjoyed is something you may not even have considered: event content. But what is event content?
Let’s dig a little deeper…
What is event content?
Think about events you may have attended yourself. What information did you want to know up front? Besides the basic information such as the title, time and date of the event, is there additional information that may have enhanced your experience? This oft-overlooked content is what we call “event content.”
Take a concert hosted at a university, for example. The title, “7th Annual Jazz Concert” may pique the interest of an audience, but there’s much more you’d want to know before making the decision to attend. No, not just time and date. What about the performers? Who’s playing at the concert? How have they been reviewed? What genre of jazz will they be playing?
The questions continue, wondering about the venue and the event itself: where will this take place? Is there indoor or outdoor seating? A dress code? Is there a preferred way to get to the venue, given on-campus construction? Will anyone you know be attending?
Collectively, the answers to these unanswered questions make up a listing’s event content.
When is it used?
As you can tell, event content fills in the gaps between the bare-bones information about an event and what an attendee may truly want to know to inform their decision. It’s the valuable middle-ground that takes them from a “maybe” to a definite “yes” RSVP.
Ideally, every event should have robust event content to accompany it. This is more than just words – event images, links to purchase tickets and more all serve to flesh out an otherwise blasé event listing. Put yourself in the shoes of your attendees. What additional information would you want to know? What would get you through the door and into a seat? If you’re not providing them with all the information you can, you’re doing both your audience and your event a disservice.
Where should it be displayed?
You’re in luck — event content can be hosted on the same calendar as your traditional event listing. In fact, we recommend it. Why? By combining all of the extant information about an event into the same calendar listing, visitors to the calendar will have a one-stop shop for all the information they’ll need to make a decision.
In addition, there are SEO benefits to providing robust event content on the calendar listing itself. The additional information provides more room for searchable, highly discoverable keywords to be worked into your messaging. On the right event calendar, every additional piece of content (such as event images and more) will also provide another item that can be indexed by search engines, leading attendees to your event listing in multiple ways. This serves to make your event more discoverable online, getting rid of all those complaints of “I wish I knew about that before it happened!” Make your events accessible to anyone who wants to join, and you’ll see increased attendance and a rise in attendee satisfaction.
Why is it important?
Properly optimized event content is crucial to the success of an event because it answers unasked questions. Attendees (and prospective attendees) can rest comfortably knowing that they’re prepared for an event and won’t be surprised by its topic, layout or venue upon arrival.
Your event content should receive the same amount of care as your main website, blog or social media profiles. We often see sites that are filled to the brim with careful marketing strategies, and then calendars that are left to languish because their information is “just for the end user.” Wrong. Your calendar is a key marketing tool, and robust event content can boost event attendance (to the tune of 700%!), increase awareness of your school or brand (by 3000%) and make your events more discoverable for any audience. That’s a recipe for success, no matter the metric.
Channels like email, social media and public relations require time and effort from your team that extends throughout the event lifecycle. Unlike these others, your event content is one marketing channel that requires just a little work up front and pays dividends on the backend. It doesn’t need perpetual maintenance; once the content has been updated, you can sit back and reap the rewards. It’s a true case of “set it and forget it,” a channel that does your marketing work for you. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of this opportunity?
What are event content best practices?
Now that you understand the importance of event content in your marketing strategy, it’s time to implement it for your own site. But if you’re first starting out, this could be easier said than done.
So, what makes for “good” event content? Simply speaking, it should allow a user to get more context around an event. The best way to do that is optimize things like character length, metadata and user interaction with a calendar listing. These elements (and others!) help you to flesh out your event listings and making them more discoverable and informative. Each is also part of what Localist uses to calculate an event’s EventReach, a proprietary metric that measures the expected audience awareness an event has. In this context, “awareness” includes discoverability within a client’s Localist calendar, externally via search engine optimization and the potential for post-event engagement we foresee for an event. Take a look at the guidelines and see where your event content could use some improvement:
- Character length: Event descriptions should be around 160 characters – more than the length of a tweet, but certainly not a novel. You want to ensure that your audience is getting all the information they need without overwhelming them.
- Event date: An event should take place at least seven days away from when it’s first posted online. This accounts for the time a page takes to get indexed by Google, as well as discoverability metrics. Seven days gives your event listing time to be both indexed by search engines and found by those people who might want to attend.
- Location: How will people show up at your event if they don’t know where it’s being held? Make sure to include a location for any in-person event.
- Venue description: The best event listings have more than just a description of the event; they offer a description of the venue itself. Think about the last time you went to an event at your favorite bar or concert hall simply because it was convenient and enjoyable. Sometimes it’s about the venue itself, not the event. Provide this information!
- Photo: Inclusion of an event photo is self-explanatory, yet often overlooked. This element of an event listing gives your audience a visual expectation for what the event will be about, and provides an additional item that can be indexed by search engines and lead your audience to your event.
- Metadata: Event metadata includes an event category, target audience, groups or departments the event is associated with and so much more. These nitty-gritty details work to fill out an event description in a way that a traditional event listing cannot.
- Subscription options: The right event calendar will give your users the ability to subscribe to an event. Not only does this help make your event more discoverable, but it will help boost attendance as people will be reminded of the event before it happens.
- Hashtags: If you’re in charge of promoting an event, you’ve likely done your share of thinking about social media hashtags. Whichever one you’ve settled on, make sure to include it in your event content. This is a way of consolidating social media chatter about the event into one place, and will leave your audience better informed and involved.
- Website: Including the website for an event (or for an event organizer, if no event website exists) is a no-brainer. This provides additional context around the event itself; if your audience has additional questions, they can go explore the site for more answers.
- Event highlighting: Sometimes you want to call attention to certain events on your calendar. Ensure that your calendar of choice will allow you to style those events differently so they stand out from the crowd.
- User interaction: Allowing user interaction with the event content is crucial, whether that means enabling the uploading of photos or letting your audience leave comments and reviews after an event has taken place.
One of the reasons we so strongly recommend using an event calendar that was made for the purpose of making events discoverable is that even using the same type of information within a traditional CMS won’t make as great an impact on search results and audiences. Metadata on a blog post, for example, is very different from metadata on a calendar. It’s important to employ a system that will give each part of your event content the weight it needs to be discoverable. With the above guidelines in mind, you’ll be off to a good start.
What should this look like?
Here are some examples of online calendars making the most of their event content:
Explore Gwinnett, Gwinnett County, Georgia’s official tourism organization, has a calendar that highlights their events in a creative and attractive manner. From a large event image with key details to SEO-optimized descriptive content below, Explore Gwinnett’s event listings tell prospective attendees what they need to know, when they need to know it. Highlights include information on ages of attendees, sponsorships, musical acts and available food.
Boston College’s event content is chock-full of user-submitted content that not only talks about the goals of the event in question, but includes reference information and individual’s names. Armed with this information, attendees will be better prepared for the event they’re signing up for, knowing whether the topic is indeed of interest to them.
New York Presbyterian
New York Presbyterian’s calendar, as shown in this example of an recurring walking event, is rife with details that could make all the difference in convincing audiences to attend. From a unique event image and map of the starting line to information on the distance to be covered and an estimated time it will take to complete the walk, this event content answers the questions users might not think to ask.
University of Tulsa
The University of Tulsa does a good job of providing complete metadata for each of their events. In this example, users can see the event type, social media hashtag, target audiences, sponsoring department and much more. They’ve also worked to show others who are interested in attending, letting a fear of missing out on a social event drive increased attendance.
Robust event content can mean the difference between an event that is attended and enjoyed, and one that is ignored by your target audience. By concentrating on optimizing your on-site content, making your calendar discoverable and choosing an online event calendar that can properly display and help index the details, you’ll find see increased traffic and event attendance across the board. Good luck!