Not long ago, I added to my social media portfolio with Instagram and Pinterest. On top of that, I have my Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook, all of which I try to post on regularly. But who has time for all that? Enter IFTTT – ‘if this, then that’. It’s an online productivity tool that helps automate a whole lot of stuff. Here’s my IFTTT review.
I’m no expert by any means, and I haven’t been using it for very long. I am also definitely not using it to its full potential. If you have a phone or any kind of home automation or Internet of Things devices, you can get even more out of this free service. No one has asked me to write this post, or paid me to say any of this. (But, hey, you want to throw some ad dollars my way, I’ll take them!) I just think it’s a great service and it could come in handy to other people trying to juggle a bunch of social media profiles for your personal, freelance, or work lives.
My IFTTT Review and How to Use It
If This, Then That (IFTTT) is a free, online web and mobile app that can simplify your online life by building simple sentences, or applets, that make something happen. ‘IF my neighbour is stomping around at 2am, THEN I will bang on the wall‘ or, more on topic, ‘IF I tag a photo on Flickr as ‘share’, THEN post that photo to Facebook as a link‘. It’s based on Conditional computer programming, but don’t let that scare you off! The service is actually quite easy to use.
It’s already made my life so much easier!
“What can I use it for?”
Pretty much anything. Use it to quickly and easily cross-post across social media platforms. You can send and receive email or mobile notifications. Are you into home automation or wearables like FitBit? There’s apps for those, too. You can even use it to control your phone based on your location, like turning it to silent when you get to the office. Want news straight from NASA? You got it.
Some services only work one way. For example, I can post from Instagram to other services, but I can’t make it post a Flickr photo on Instagram. Curses.
“That sounds interesting. HOW do I use it?”
It’s simple! The easiest way is to just browse or search for what you think you’re looking for. At the top of the website is a rotating carousel featuring different collections of ‘applets’ you might find interesting. It’s a great place to get started, or come up with ideas. Next, just search for something you want to do, or for a service, like Flickr, you want to use.
If you find one of these pre-built applets, just click on it and toggle it on. It will prompt you to log in to each service and connect IFTTT to it so they can talk to each other. So this service may not be for you if that’s something you’re worried about.
Once you’ve added an applet, you can edit it, by clicking on the gear icon, and also look at your profile’s activity tab to see when it’s run.
Now, click on your profile image (in the top corner of the screen) and click on services. This will show all the services you’ve connected. Click on a service to see all the related applets you’re using, as well as suggestions for others you might like.
You can toggle these on and off whenever you want.
“I think I just want to jump in and make one.”
Great! Experiment! IFTTT will actually walk you right through the process. I find it pretty intuitive. Click on ‘New Applet’ on your profile and just follow the steps.
Choose your IF THIS service and the conditions that will trigger the applet. Then you’ll choose the destination service and customize what you want to happen with the ‘ingredients’. Review and turn it on. I recommend you keep notifications turned on, just so you can keep track of things.
If you don’t want an applet to run all the time, just toggle it off until you want it again. You can delete the ones you never want to use again.
How I use IFTTT
As I mentioned earlier, I’m definitely not taking full advantage of this service. I don’t have a phone and I don’t have any home automation or wearable devices. What I do have is a lot of photos and some daily and weekly social media goals. Here’s what I’m using it for at the moment.
Streamlining Social Media
I have a goal of posting on Twitter and Facebook each at least once a day, and to Flickr at least once a week. Add to that my new homes at Instagram (2-3 times a weeks) and Pinterest (as needed) and it’s a lot to keep on top of.
- Share a Tweet on Facebook
If my social media post is short and sweet, why post it twice? I post it on Twitter (because the character limit is more restricted there) and give it a hashtag #fb and that auto-shares it to Facebook.
- Use Google Calendar to schedule Tweets and Facebook Posts
This is super handy. Natively, you can only schedule posts on Facebook Pages. There are apps like Hootsuite that will allow scheduling, but the whole point here is to streamline things. Create this applet and you don’t have to worry about that. I create an event in my Google Calendar that has #sendtofb somewhere in the title and set it for the date and time I want the post to go out. At the designated time, a post is created comprised of whatever you put in the event description. Remember: the Twitter character limit is 140 characters! This came in super handy when I posted a recent countdown and I will certainly use this to schedule posts while I’m away.
- Tweet Breaking News From NASA
Why Tweet when I can make NASA do it for me? This is one of the ones I came across while browsing the site. I might turn it off at some point, but for now it’s fun.
- Sending photos to Instagram
This isn’t quite so easy. I don’t actually have a mobile device that will take photos and share to Instagram; you also can’t upload to the platform from your PC; I don’t have WiFi at home. On top of all that – Instagram doesn’t play well with others. It’s actually quite a nuisance! IFTTT helps make things quicker when I’m actually in a position to share on Instagram. I won’t bore you with the details, but if you want the full monty on how to make this happen, just let me know!
- Pin a Single Photo
I pin the photos I’m most proud of on Pinterest. Now, I have the Pinterest extension installed on my browser, but I find it doesn’t work with Flickr. I’d have to go to the Pinterest site and pin it the long way. Or I could just tag the photo with ‘pin’ and be done. It’s actually even faster than using the extension!
- Share a Single Flickr Photo
Between my once-a-day social media quota, participating in ‘Throwback Thursday’, and wanting to drive traffic to Flickr even when I’m not shooting, sometimes I want to share just a single photo from. I just tag it ‘share’ and it posts a link to Twitter and Facebook. You also have the option of having it upload the photo to those platforms.
- Share a Set
Every time a create a new set (like after a trip) it will share it on Twitter and Facebook for me.
Notifications and Fun Stuff
Most of the time, you’ll want notification applets to notify you of something. Sometimes, however, you want to give someone else a nudge.
- Tell the family when I post new photos to Flickr.
You wouldn’t think I’d need this one, considering I post my photos on Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, and often my blog. But I still get “have you taken any photos lately, dear?” Seriously, I post photos at least once a week. You’re on Facebook. sigh. Of course, I’m not sure emailing them will make it any better, but you can’t say I haven’t tried! Why write them an email each time when I can just make IFTTT do it for me? It created a basic template and I added stuff to what would be the body of the email. (I had to connect my Gmail account for this one, not use the generic ’email’ service/icon.)
Some more applets I found while browsing the site. Again, I might turn these off eventually, but they’re fun for now!
- Get a weekly report from the ISS – Because space is awesome
- Get a notification every time an astronaut enters space – for the same reason. :) This is a mobile app.
This is just a small taste of what IFTTT can do. How can it help you?
Are you using the service already? Do you have any interesting applets to share or recommend?
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