A recent study compared the “crawlability” of Localist to other popular university calendaring systems, 25Live and Trumba — that is, how well search engines can index the pages being served. It consistently found that search caches of Localist content at institutions outnumbered those of other systems by thousands. Any calendars served by 25Live or Trumba were virtually invisible.
Some examples of Google’s indexed pages:
Cornell University - Localist:
Individual events are cached discretely by Google, giving the calendar a rich presence on the Web. Since event calendars change frequently, Google will visit this site often, looking for new content.
California State University San Marcos - Trumba:
In this example, Google has found only the index page of the calendar. Google cannot see links to any individual events, or even RSS feeds. Therefore, none of the actual calendar content can be indexed by any search engine.
Chemeketa Community College calendar - 25Live:
Similar to the example above, only the index page was found by Google.
Working with over thirty five institutions across the US has allowed us to consistently measure how much traffic search engines generate when it comes to finding calendar information. On average, 45% of the traffic to Localist calendars is from search engines. If your institution uses a Google Appliance to manage the indexing of all the content on your website, it will pick up Localist content as well.
Even more importantly, most students are used to performing a search, not navigating through various menus on a school’s website, so having up-to-date calendar content available via search, not just on a website, is integral to getting a student more involved.
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We’ve learned a lot about what makes a student respond to a school’s adoption of a unified calendar. Below are some best practices to get your students more engaged around events on campus.
Put a Localist widget on your school’s homepage
Many schools tuck their calendar behind a single “Events Calendar” link on their homepage, requiring that the user click that link exclusively to access the calendar. If a school includes a Localist widget on their homepage, the user is immediately brought up to speed on the trending events happening that day, and provides additional avenues to access the calendar.
Actively send newsletters, leaving students opted-in by default
Many of our partners consistently send out weekly “upcoming events” newsletters, and our student surveys from each have yielded an overwhelmingly positive response. On average, schools that regularly send newsletters are seeing a 10% click-through rate, which is above and beyond typical newsletter engagement of less than 1%.
Use Localist as your unified events calendar
One of the biggest issues universities face when it comes to managing events is that of decentralized calendars. Often, each department in a school has their own calendar; if a staff member in one department wants to share an event they’re organizing to the entire student population, it involves posting the event in several places and sending emails, without any guarantee of who exactly is seeing the event. With a unified calendar like Localist, there’s a single place to find all events happening at any one time, resulting in a more efficient, less confusing workflow.
Actively encourage students to connect their Facebook accounts to Localist
These days, every student is on Facebook. That’s why Localist has advanced tie-ins with it to keep students involved with your school’s events no matter where they are. Our integration allows students to send school events to Facebook, bring the attendee lists of Facebook events into Localist, share event details on their Facebook wall and more.
Create event groups to segment content
Localist’s powerful curation abilities allow your editors to slice and dice content into intuitive presentations. Show individual listings of academic, sports, and social events to highlight segments of events your users look for most often.
Add Foursquare profiles for your on-campus venues and link them in Localist
While Foursquare is a relatively new phenomenon, it’s already being used by many students on college campuses. A great way to keep students engaged is to create Foursquare profiles for all the major venues on your campus. Students can “Check In” and leave tips, which Localist can display on its venue profiles automatically. A great way to centralize information from several platforms.
Encourage student groups to use Localist as their event calendar, with widgets to post on their pages
Many student groups have their own websites, but at the cost of managing a decentralized calendar. Students have to visit the websites of each group to get a good idea of what’s happening. With Localist, groups can easily add their events, ensuring adequate reach, while simultaneously listing their events on the group’s respective website through a Localist widget. It’s the best of both worlds.
Give prizes to students who mark themselves as “Going” on Localist
A little healthy competition never hurts. Keep users coming back by offering incentives to engage.
Post events on Facebook and link them
Our tight integration with Facebook Events allows your administrators to link an event on Facebook to its respective event listing on Localist. This allows for a seamless integration between the two services, presenting more opportunities for information sharing.
Encourage usage on the go
Recommend that students and staff visit your school’s calendar URL on their smart-phones while walking around campus. They’ll be served with a mobile-optimized version of Localist that has all the features and functionality of the regular platform.
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When a partner crosses its 1-year anniversary with us, we ask them to give us some insight on what they find most useful in having a unified calendar, and why they continue to use it.
Here are the top 5 reasons:
- Vastly improves school calendar functionality across all campuses.
- Drives student engagement more than any other events platform.
- Promotes students engaged on campus with college sponsored events and student groups.
- Provides appropriate tools for administration to help share information with students, faculty, staff and the community.
- Retains students by giving them a sense of ownership on their social activities.
While a unified calendar platform is very powerful, it’s by no means a magic pill. Ultimately, the staff at a school need to recognize and actively promote the value of a unified calendar for it to be an integral part of a student’s college experience.
We’ll be sharing some best practices on how to promote a unified calendar next week.
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