If you haven’t heard of Trello, wake up and smell the agile world around you. While most of their concepts likely stem from agile development, their online application can be used from personal to-do’s to team based workflows. It really is that customizable to use for just about anything but I will focus on how I use Trello for a digital marketing calendar.

P.S. It’s 100% free and there’s a mobile app as well.

Who this tutorial is for?

  • Digital marketing professionals who manage social media accounts
  • People with teams to collaborate and discuss ideas outside of email
  • Employees who get asked from upper management what we’ve posted recently or what’s coming up

Now, I won’t go into the basics of how to create a Trello board or how to add members of your team to the board or how to create lists for workflows in Trello but have linked you to those basics. This post assumes you have a basic understanding of how Trello works and that you’re likely already a user of the service.

What I will get into is the system I use with Trello to make a digital marketing calendar that helps visualize what is being posted and when and where it is being posted. From social media to email blasts, this guide will walk you through how to organize an easy to view calender of items you want to post and a history of those postings for any new people coming on your team to get an idea of what kind of routine and schedule you have for your company.

calendarFirst thing first, add the “Calendar” option from the Power-Ups area under the menu for the board. This will give you a calendar button above your lists to see a calendar view of your posts.

Due dates. Every card past “Post Ideas” below will need due dates. It’s important because that’s what will make the cards show up in the calendar view.  The “due date” isn’t necessarily a deadline but a date of when you want to post it. Schedules for digital have to be flexible for other priorities. If something gets moved back, just make sure to update the date.

Labels

Before we get into the actual list purposes, let’s go over labels, colors and their meanings. This is completely flexible to your preferences and how you would like to set this up. The colors are 100% your own to label as you see fit. I went with something that made sense to me and that was the following: (click for image representation)

  • Incomplete – Red
  • Scheduled – Yellow
  • Posted – Black
  • Used other colors to represent the different mediums and sites.

I didn’t list every color I used for each site because some cards will have multiple sites they’re posted to. But the Incomplete/Scheduled/Posted are exclusive of each other. You should never have a card that has 2 of those at a time. If it’s scheduled, it shouldn’t be incomplete. If it’s posted, it certainly shouldn’t have either of the other two as well. The reason that’s important is for the visual representation the calendar will give you when looking from that view. It will allow you to quickly identify what cards are coming up that need to be worked on. Something with the incomplete label that is tomorrow should hold higher priority to look at than something a week from now.

Because I’ve grown to understand the labels and colors I can look at the image below and know exactly what sites these were posted to and that no posts were missed based on the black posted label on these cards. (Happy Friday! was scheduled but not posted at the time of this article).

For my board, I have 6 different lists: User Submissions, Post Ideas, Needs Review, Scheduled, Posted and Reports. We’ll go through each list and the purpose of them. Some you may find won’t apply to your situation. That’s okay, Trello isn’t meant to be a one trick pony. You’ll find your own unique system that works for you and that’s the best way to use this.

User Submissions

I work in a large organization where other employees often suggest things we should consider for posting to our social media. Rather than having them email me directly, I setup a User Submission list and setup a vanity email that would email the board and create a card with each user submission.  If user submissions do not apply to you, skip to the next section.

This may be more difficult for small business users but just try googling “auto forward email to another email address for [INSERT YOUR EMAIL CLIENT]” and try to see how that can be done for you.

How to Get the Email to Board Setup?

Under the menu for the board, you will see an”Email-to-board Settings” option.  Here is where you will you get your custom email address for the board.  This is what you’ll want a vanity email to auto forward to. We use something short and simple like Social@CompanyName.com that’s easy to remember.  You set the list you want the emailed card to go to and the position. If you select bottom, newest entries will go to the bottom.  This list is a staging queue. Once you review the card and decide you’re going to do it or not, it can be archived or moved to the appropriate list for copy and scheduling.

The card name will be whatever the subject was in the email and the description will be whatever is in the body of the email. Attachments will come through as well.

Post Ideas

This is a great list to have whether you have a team or you’re a 1 person digital power house. It’s a place where you can jot down your ideas so you don’t forget them and flesh them out later. If you have a team, it’s a great place to collaborate before they get moved to another list. When brainstorming, you don’t necessarily need a due date just yet. I would take this list to use for just discussing with your team or yourself about what you really want to do with it.

Needs Review

In my company we have 2 copywriters. Their expertise is making sure the copy is well written and is up to snuff with our style guide. As you can likely see, there’s a few errors throughout this article. That’s because I’m so spoiled with their knowledge of grammar and wordsmithing that I can get away with just throwing out general ideas and rough drafts and let them fine tune the messaging. They’re here to make sure I don’t goof up our style guides and adhere to them. They deal with them on a consistent basis through print and digital so it just makes sense to get them involved here.

The needs review can also be if you have a boss who wants to see everything before it gets scheduled. If neither of those apply to you, you can remove this list and go straight from ideas to scheduled but I’d recommend having this list even if it’s yourself reviewing the copy the next day. You’ll probably catch a few things after you come back to it.

Scheduled

Set it and forget it! Once the post has the scheduled label on it, that means it is either scheduled directly on the site, through Hootsuite or some other platform you use. Scheduled means if human life ceased to exist, the post would go out because it is set ready to go. Scheduled is rewarding because it starts giving you shape to your calendar. You want to see yellow everywhere. The less red (incomplete) on the calendar, the better. If you know you’re going to be on vacation next week, all next week should be prepared and ready to go ahead of time.

Posted

That black label is less important to immediately update. You probably shouldn’t just assume all scheduled posts actually went out and go verify on that social media site that it actually did get posted and then update the label. We don’t clear the cards or archive them when they’re posted because archived cards won’t show on the calendar view. We’ve discussed but haven’t finalized a time frame where it’s okay to remove older posts and archive them to clean up the posted list view. If you were to do this, I would recommend an “Archive Posted” list that you move the cards to after said date range then you can archive all at once from a list.

The reason we keep posted items on the calendar is it can be helpful to go back and see what you have done at a glance on the different sites. If you archive them, you then have to look on each site and spend time locating those posts. We feel this is the best way to have a quick look in the past without too much effort.

Reports

What’s the point of doing any of this if you’re not going to have insights? We have a list for reports just to keep it easy to find. Each month has a report for each medium we posted to, to get a glance to see how our posts did. Top performers, frequency, etc. It helps us know what we should change moving forward.

In Summary

Trello is a very powerful tool and can be used for a variety of things. Some use it for development, we use it for project lists outside of digital reasons and now we’ve adopted it for use as our digital marketing posting schedule.

Have you found a unique way to use Trello or do you have a suggestion to make the above process even better? Let me know in the comments.

Tags:
  • Laura

    Cool, I love seeing how other people use Trello. It’s so flexible that people come up with such a wide range of uses. I also use it to manage social media for multiple clients, but in a different way. I use weekly checklists to keep track of which posts I’ve scheduled for them already each week.

    Reply

  • Jan Blankenhorn

    Hello Mat,

    we created an App which can display multiple Trello Calendars in one view. Feel free to check it out! http://trello-calendar.w11k.de

    Reply

  • Alex E. Smith

    Heya Matt! Wow, this was exactly the type of board I was looking for to collaborate with my team! Thanks so much for the insight!

    Reply

  • Steve McKinney

    T!hanks Matt! I am new to Trello and am trying to figure out how to best use it to manage my content and calendar my posts on a variety of social media sites. Your suggestions are very helpful to me. Thanks!

    Reply

Leave a Reply