Sister-Sites have actually been around for several years, but were previously referred to as "Mini Sites", though these sites are anything but 'small'. They were born from the popularity of our Syndication module, and from the desire of many syndication partners to partake in the same design flexibility, navigation, search function, and other benefits that come with using a full ARTSOPOLIS website.
Before we get into the specifics of Sister-sites, let's talk about our Syndication module. Many of you have a syndication partner that uses your Event Calendar feed on their site through a simple iframe widget, WordPress plugin, or RSS feed because they may lack the technical expertise to use a more advanced solution. Requests for this type of 'turn key' solution are common within the network and it's the reason why the Syndication module exists. While this is a functional solution to this problem for many organizations, some community partners would prefer to keep their branding and other visual elements of their website more consistent than the Syndication module can provide. Sometimes it's not financially feasible for them to develop a technology solution on their own, or they don't have the staff hours to manage the calendar's content.
This is where Sister-Sites, like North Wood and Waters Lynx, come in. By partnering with St. Croix Splash, we were able to help them build an informational site and provide them with their own copy of the St. Croix Splash calendar, completely customized to their brand identity. Also, because North Wood and Waters Lynx serves a much broader geographical area, we were able to add additional categories to the event form for the St. Croix Splash calendar that will only display on the North Wood and Waters Lynx site. This is due to those categories of content only being relevant to their North Woods audience.
The technological 'heavy lifting' originally done by St. Croix Splash and their yearly renewal fees, will now be partially mitigated by sharing the fruits of their labor with North Wood and Waters Lynx. In turn, North Woods will direct all event submission traffic to StCroixSplash.org, allowing Splash to receive additional content without additional marketing efforts. This is a proven theory. St. Croix Splash accomplished a similar goal with its partner Discover Stillwater, another of their Sister-Sites, built in 2012.
Sister-Sites offer the opportunity to make your calendar more appealing to promoters, and more useful for the community, by centralizing information. This creates a web of information that catches the attention of multiple demographics, because each brand and each site's audience will be different. Even though the calendar information is the same as that found on another site, the end user will be more receptive to the event information if it's presented by an organization they trust or has other content of interest to them, such as articles or resource guides. An event presenter or promoter is more likely to view the calendar service as a more powerful promotional tool when they know that by posting their event listings onto one calendar that they will reach multiple demographics.
Another success story surrounding Sister-Sites comes out of Sacramento. Sacramento365 has a number of syndication partners and has become the centralized hub for the region's calendar listings due to its comprehensive database of events. Because of both the depth and breadth of their event listings, including arts, culture, food, sports, trade shows, conventions, festivals, and recreation they were able to establish a strategic partnership with the region's most prominent public radio station, Capital Public Radio, with its Sister-Site Events.CapRadio.org, creating a strong symbiotic community partnership.