Your online event calendar’s design can make your calendar is one of the most popular features on your website—or make it completely useless. Your users should know exactly where to click, and should require no training or direction to find the events they’re interested in. If your calendar’s design makes it too hard for them to find events, they’ll give up and look elsewhere.
At Localist, we spend a lot of time thinking about the best possible online event calendar design, from both an aesthetics and functionality standpoint. Yet we always want to ensure that our thoughts align with the reality of how users are interacting with our event calendar software. To do so, we recently checked in with some of our higher education customers. We asked, “What is the most important aspect of good online event calendar design for your school?” Below, we share their answers.
Rhode Island School of Design
“An uncluttered visual design is critically important and the Localist platform provides that. However, RISD was most attracted by the ability to emphasize the great variety of events on our campus. We love that users can filter these events by key categories—namely academic events, gallery exhibitions, and RISD Museum events—right on the calendar homepage.”
Senior Director, Digital Media Communications
RISD Media Group
Rhode Island School of Design
Has your organization been the victim of potential event attendee forgetfulness, or its more virile form, I-didn’t-know-about-the-event-itis? In our experience, the most common reason people give for not attending events is pretty simple: they didn’t find out about the event until after it already happened. Organizations that direct their audience to a basic Google calendar, scheduling system, or blog calendar plug-in, aren’t doing enough to cure the lack of awareness epidemic.
If you’re hosting great events, but seeing lackluster attendance, it might be time to brainstorm ways to address these common issues. Here at Localist, we build social calendars that help get the word out about events, and engage audiences, before the event happens. We thought we’d share some of the ways your online event calendar can fix the awareness issue and increase attendance at events.
Increase Awareness of Events
1. Sort event feeds by interest. It is human nature to seek out ways to explore your interests with other like-minded people. So, when an online event calendar offers a way to sort and display events by interests, people are more likely to find (and attend) an event that tickles their fancies. Plus, calendar users can subscribe to feeds and get alerts about events that match their interests.
2. Focus on SEO. People often rely on simple searches to find what they’re looking for online. Maybe they’re in town for the weekend and want to find a fun music-centered event to attend, so they pop over to their search engine of choice for a quick, broad search. Don’t neglect SEO! Make sure your online event calendar and relevant event posts show up on that first page. Dynamic content that is updated frequently, structured correctly, and features key search terms, will help people find your event.
Time—some say it heals, some say it flies, and some say it makes fools of us. No matter what people say about time, everyone wants more of it. In each workplace and organization, saving time comes from being more efficient and automating tasks. Your website events calendar should help you accomplish these goals.
At Localist, we know a thing or two about saving our customers’ time. When we hit 100,000 events across all of our customers, we calculated that on average, five minutes were saved per event, which equals 8,300 total hours of administrator time saved. That’s almost an entire year’s worth of hours!
Now, in the spirit of saving you even more time, we’ll briefly break down key time-saving features that you should see in your website events calendar.
1. Bulk uploading. Got a long list of events waiting to be uploaded? Looking around for some help? Bulk uploading is a feature that allows you to take your Excel spreadsheet full of events and upload all of them at once.
2. Widget feature to eliminate duplicate entry. If you want to display the same event on multiple websites, but cringe at the idea of having to enter information for one event multiple times, you need widgets. At least with Localist, our widget features eliminate duplicate entry by automatically carrying events over to other sites as specified during setup. Problem solved.
3. Easy to use system. An easy to use system is important for functionality, and saving time! If the website events calendar system you’re using requires fewer mouse clicks to accomplish a task, you’ve saved seconds, which can turn into minutes, and hours. Localist, for example, uses a text field for date entry instead of requiring users to click through a date drop-down. Play around on different websites, and you’ll see how pesky unnecessary extra clicks can be.
Keeping your online event calendar chock full of interesting events drives traffic to your calendar and your website and improves SEO. Sure, all this talk about SEO, web traffic, and social media is important, but in-person engagement is what events are all about, right?
Let’s get back to basics and cover the multiple ways your organization can benefit from holding real, in-person, live events.
1. Build brand recognition. Hip-hop stars have hype men to get the crowd engaged and drive attention toward the artist. Think about events as an excellent way to increase the hype around your organization. Hosting events promotes your name and helps people connect with your brand. Plus, people generally travel with others in tow, so your reach will extend as event attendees bring their friends.
2. Showcase your venue. Have a space that’s fantastic for hosting events? Planning your own event to showcase the beauty, utility, overall coolness (take your pick of adjectives) of your venue brings people into the space and gets their minds working. Could this be the perfect convention center for their next company meeting? Could they picture their parents dancing at their 50th anniversary party in this restaurant? Pictures of your venue just never do it justice. Bring people in!
Nothing gets a community going like user-generated content. People tend to engage more with an organization, venue, or brand when they feel like they’re part of an active online community. Successful businesses and organizations know how to leverage this innate human social quality to keep people interested and involved. That’s why we strongly encourage organizations—Localist customers or not—to allow their users to submit events to their online event calendars.
You’ll see we said “encourage,” and not “force.” We know that online event calendar administrators might be hesitant to allow their users too much access for fear of inappropriate events or spam. That’s where our layered permissions that allow admins to moderate user submitted events come in. With that worry gone, let’s focus on the major benefits we see as reasons to allow users to submit content to your online event calendar. We’ve talked about this before for colleges and students, and many of the same concepts apply in the light of a general community, as we’ll cover below.
By opening up this option to your calendar’s users you will:
1. Engage community leaders
Community leaders offer access to engaged groups of people. You’ll want to tap into their vast social capital. Because they are more likely to be well connected with other members of the community, and vocal about participating in events and online discussions, you can think of them as people and idea movers. Give them the ability to add events, and they’ll be more likely to engage with the calendar, invite others, and share the opportunity or event across multiple social media sites. Plus, they’ll experience the added bonus of feeling like a top contributor.
2. Showcase a thriving community
User-submitted events on the online event calendar will show anyone who visits your website that your community is thriving. Your website is often the first contact someone will have with your business or organization. Leave them with a positive first impression by showcasing an online event calendar filled with a large number and wide variety of events. For example, Localist customer gb.tc has an online event calendar full of user-submitted events that highlight a robust and active tech community. Engagement with your community is an extremely attractive quality you’ll want to your calendar to feature.
Social media is a key component of smart marketing campaigns. Because you already know this, you’re creating Facebook pages, tweeting daily, and sharing, sharing, sharing. But even with the help of a social media-savvy colleague or community manager, there’s a lot to keep track of when information moves that quickly!
If you’re using a social online event calendar, like Localist, you can take advantage of several features that will help boost your social media presence and engage with your audience. And we’re not just talking about sharing links to your events.
Read on to discover the ways your online event calendar can take social media marketing beyond simple sharing. We’ll highlight some key tools you can use for specific social media platforms, and will remind you of some good rules of thumb when sharing.
1. Take advantage of Facebook buttons for viral sharing. Your online event calendar should feature Facebook buttons that allow attendees to share events with their Facebook friends, who are likely to be intrigued about what their friends are doing! To get an idea of the power of Facebook sharing, consider these numbers from our online event calendar metrics post: “In just 30 days, events on Localist were shared via our Facebook buttons 596 times, and those events were clicked 800 times.” That means because of the Facebook button on our events page, 194% more people found out about events on our customers’ calendars.
2. Connect your calendar and Facebook events. Tying event posts together across different online locations is important. With Localist, when you create an event on your online event calendar, you can connect it to a Facebook event by adding the Facebook Event URL in your event listing. Localist can also turn all of your Localist events into Facebook events automatically. With both mechanisms, we can to pull event attendees from Facebook. With this data, our trending algorithm can give a more accurate representation of the popularity of a particular event, based on who said they were “going” on Facebook.
3. Remember to include images. Research has shown that including an image increases pageviews. It’s easy to see why when you look at any link on Facebook. Without an image, Facebook will simply display your text and it won’t look nearly as appealing. Even if you only use an image of the venue for every event, it will benefit from having that extra style.
If you promote or publish many events, your website events calendar has the power to be a significant marketing tool for your organization.
Below, we’ll cover ways your online calendar can help your organization with marketing. Of course, our advice stems from features and functionality included in Localist’s website events calendar platform, but you can use many of these tips regardless of your platform.
1. Content marketing
Event postings, essentially, are content, making an events calendar a powerful engine for content marketing. Content marketing focuses on using content to drive your target audience to action, such as returning to your website or showing up for an event. Many of the below types of marketing fall under the umbrella of content marketing.
2. Social media marketing
Website events calendar platforms range widely in terms of how much they embrace social media, but at Localist, we ensure event content is as social as possible. For example, we:
a. Integrate calendar events with Facebook events
b. Pull in Twitter activity to event pages and factor it into our trending algorithm (more on that later)
c. Integrate Foursquare check-ins with venue pages
d. Provide social sharing buttons so that website visitors can spread the word
Any institution that deals with many people and groups that all need to be organized in one place should have a dynamic online event calendar. Yet many hospitals have no online event calendar, or only publish a very limited one.
We’re based in Baltimore, MD, a healthcare mecca. We know as well as anyone that hospitals serve a vital role for patients, patients’ families, and the health of the whole community.
Below, we’ve outlined the reasons why hospitals should bring their communities together with online event calendars.
1. Keep your community healthy by keeping them in the know
Although many people think of hospitals as places to go when they’re sick, hospitals also hold events and have services focused on disease prevention. Your wellness and health educational events need a great place to be publicized. An online event calendar provides a one-stop solution to helping to keep your community informed about these events.
2. Support your support groups
Your hospital’s support groups should have an online place to organize. Posting meeting times and locations is a great way to let your community know you’re there for them. Plus, it raises awareness that support groups like these exist, as some community members might not know that these resources are as close as their local hospital.
There are many online event calendar solutions out there, though none of them are quite like Localist. We’re biased when we say so, for sure, but hey, we’ve also been given sole-source status in many states because of our unique features. We don’t normally write posts that focus so much on Localist, but we wanted to let you know about a new promotion we’re offering.
We’ve now had quite a bit of experience with switching customers to Localist from other online event calendar providers. Since it’s easier for us to make the switch than to start from scratch, we’ve decided to waive our set up fee if you switch from Trumba, R25, or EMS to Localist. Check out the details for that here, and read on for the reasons why you should switch.
1. Look and feel
Localist has a cleaner look and feel than other calendar providers, making our online event calendar easier to use for both administrators and website visitors.
2. Flagship product
For us, our online event calendar is our only product, and receives our full attention. We’re constantly working to improve our features and functionality. For some other providers, the calendar is not their flagship product, and doesn’t receive the kind of full attention necessary to keep pace with today’s rapidly changing technology.
3. Separate from room scheduling
Localist’s calendar features aren’t muddled together with room scheduling features. We’ve heard from customers who once used room scheduling software to power their calendars that, with this system, they had a hard time keeping private room scheduling information off their public events calendar. Their event attendees didn’t need to see where the catering prep rooms were, but their room scheduling software displayed that information publicly.
4. Room scheduling integration
We don’t include room scheduling features, but we do integrate with major room scheduling software providers. That way, you have the features you need for an online event calendar, nothing more—but you can still take advantage of a calendar and room scheduler that work together.
When making a decision on a website events calendar, you’ll need to have many departments weigh in to make sure the solution you choose meets the needs of the entire organization. We know that’s a lot of information to keep track of, and people to keep happy. In order to make your organization’s decision easier, we recently published “Why Localist Matters,” which will take you through how Localist benefits every department. Yet the questions below apply to any website events calendar solution you’re considering. We’ve already talked about marketing and web communications, and we’re going to continue to cover each department here on our blog.
Today, we’ll talk about the questions your legal department will want to address identifying the right website events calendar for your organization. When we’re in initial talks with customers’ legal departments, we hear a lot of the same recurring questions come up. After all, legal departments need to take care of all things contract-related. We’ve included the most common questions below. For more information on how these topics relate to Localist, download “Why Localist Matters.”
1. Is the calendar compliant with important usability and accessibility standards?
A website events calendar should be drawing traffic to your website, increasing event attendance, and engaging with your audience. It should not cause any legal issues. If your organization or business needs to meet certain industry-related standards, make sure your calendar solution is secure, accessible, and compliant. Many Localist customers are colleges or universities. We calm their compliance nerves when we tell them we are Section 508 and FERPA compliant.