A calendar is only as good as the events it holds. Otherwise, you’re just building a pretty picture frame.
Quantity Balanced with Quality
Here’s what I’ve found as good guidelines for today’s leading community calendars:
Small towns should aim for 10-25 events per day
Cities should aim for 50-100 events per day
Launch (or re-launch) with these numbers in mind – stocking the current and following month.
Inputting events is a sisyphean task – every day events drop off and new ones need to be added. So, unless you have an unlimited budget and patience for copying/pasting specific events to your site – you need to automate the event flow.
Step 1 – Event Submission
You should always have a button on your calendar to allow for public submissions.
Event Submissions > Settings – customize your form by choosing the required fields you would like your visitors to fill out.
Event Submissions >Submit Event Button – you have the option to embed a bigger “post your event” button anywhere on your site.
Step 2 – Build a list of your favourite Venues/Sources
You’ll need their name, calendar url, phone number, email address and Twitter handle (mentions are a great way to build relationships). Send newsletters out regularly to keep your site on top of people’s mind for posting events.
These sources are also potential sponsors if you’re interested in monetizing (more on that on in a few days).
Step 3 – Automation, Pulling Feeds
To get a steady stream of reliable event content, you need to pull events directly from relevant calendars. When you use the synched import function you get all the calendar updates on an hourly basis.
The challenge is that not all calendars are at the point where they share feeds. Become the event-thought leader in your community.
Use your browser’s search to find 25-50 good local feeds e.g. if you’re a community site in Dallas focusing on the arts, search for:
“Dallas” & “Timely Calendar” & “Art”
“Dallas” & “Timely Calendar” & “Culture”
“Dallas” & “Google Calendar” & “Music”
Reason to search for Timely calendars first is that you can import images, get more data, and you can filter their calendar and pull specific categories & tags (whereas Google and other feeds provide an all or nothing). Ie. you may want a pub’s live music events, but not their brunch specials – or you might want to pull these feeds separately into your ‘music’ and ‘wine & dine’ categories respectively.
Facebook – Authorize your facebook account so that you can seamlessly import events from Facebook as well.
You can make edits to events and preserve your changes when feeds are refreshed (click the Preserve button right below the Publish when you’re editing an event). This becomes increasingly important as you customize an event’s category or filters, as well as adding additional content or images brought in from Google or similar calendars with limited information. (double check if it will be ready with Hub release -preserve changed)