How To Automate Your Life With IFTTT


Note: Twitter recipes no longer work as Twitter has instructed IFTTT to remove Twitter triggers

What do we all want? More time. My friend told me yesterday she wanted to automate her life. I told her about ifttt.

You probably heard of ifttt. It stands for if this than that, which means if something happens (trigger) then do what I planned for you to do (action).

You might be able to automate routine tasks using ifttt. It can help you simplify your life. Maybe, it can be your shortcut to more free time while you keep a watchful eye on your business.

ifttt Basic Concepts

Simply put, ifttt is an automation tool. You set it to monitor something and if a specified event happens (trigger), ifttt executes the action you associated with the trigger. Create a task by specifying what trigger to look for and what action to perform after it is found.

For example, if you are using Twitter, here is the list of triggers.

  • new tweet by you
  • new tweet by you with hashtag
  • new link from you
  • new favorite tweet
  • new mention of you
  • new direct message
  • new follower
  • new tweet by a friend
  • new link from any friend
  • new tweet by specific user
  • new tweet from search

These are Twitter actions that ifttt can perform on your behalf:

  • post a tweet
  • post a tweet with image
  • add user to list
  • update profile picture
  • update bio

People share their tasks as templates, which are called recipes. You can browse through recipes, find one that fits your needs, customize it and save it to your tasks.

Browse Facebook recipes by trigger and by action. You can filter recipes by any channel and specify a trigger or an action.

Your Channels

Give ifttt access to tools you use at all your processes, systems, and activities. Go to channels and activate the ones you use - Dropbox, Google Reader, email, gmail, Buffer, Instagram, Pocket, etc.

  • Do you use Instagram to post pictures to Twitter?
  • Do you use Twitter lists?
  • Do you care if someone followed you?
  • Do you search Twitter for mentions of your brand or hashtags?
  • Do you use Pocket or Instapaper to read articles later?
  • Do you watch specific blogs for new posts?
  • Do you add your new blog posts on Facebook?
  • Do you backup your feeds?
  • How do you find links to post and what do you do to post them?

Some of the tasks you do can be easily automated with ifttt. Here are some examples that you can customize.

IFTTT Recipes: Alerts

When someone mentions your company, you need to jump in the conversation. You can weigh in on a topic that interests you. How do you know when those events happen so you can be one of the first to notice?

Use a Twitter search to email recipe. Every time a tweet fits your search, you will receive an email. Customize it to send you a text message instead, or even call you. You can monitor your brand very easily with this setup.

Let's get a little advanced. Apply filters to your Twitter search and pull very specific information. For example, this recipe filters out tweets from @AmazonKindle with hashtag #KindleDailyDeal. Once you have created a Twitter search trigger, email the results, send a text message, or archive. The action is your choice.

If you use Gmail or Google apps, set a task to get alerted when you receive a new email from someone (like your boss or a client). Search incoming emails for "" and get a text message when an email arrives from them. This little trick will make you look super responsive to your clients.

IFTTT Recipes: Curation

I follow several people who share incredible content and I do not want to miss anything. I use Pocket to read posts. This recipe is a perfect solution for me - save all links shared by a specific user to Pocket or Instapaper.

Search Twitter by their username and filter only tweets with links. Want to ignore retweets? - add -RT to the end of your search string (after a space, of course): from:username #tag filter:links -RT. Handy, huh?

Another recipe will allow you to add a Twitter search results to Delicious as a private or a public bookmark. If you are an RSS reader addict, like I am, you can then pull Delicious RSS feed into your reader and browse the results. Similarly, you can share this newly tagged list with your co-workers.

IFTTT Recipes: Building a Community

Do you participate in a Twitter Chat or a webinar of a conference? If you want to capture all the people who are tweeting about an event, create a Twitter list based on a hashtag. Event organizers can see who is the brand advocate and, perhaps, foster a relationship.

Put the email alerts you are getting from Twtitter to good use. Add all people who favored your tweets to a private list. All you need to do is to look for the phrase used in notification email, change what you search for - and you have a new recipe of your own.

IFTTT Recipes: Archiving

During a chat, people share links and content. Archive it to Evernote with all relevant information. Similarly, archive anything from a Twitter search to Evernote. Your pictures, links, articles, conversations - all can be archived.

IFTTT Recipes: Social Accounts Management

If you manage Facebook pages with other people, it might be helpful for you to see all messages you are posting on your pages in one calendar. With this handy recipes, you can schedule your Facebook posts with Google Calendar or manage Twitter posts. When you add Facebook posts to your calendar, they will be automatically posted on your Facebook Page at the time you specify.

Point to an RSS feed and post on Facebook page every time there is an RSS feed update. If you run a WordPress blog, automatically update your Facebook page every time you add a new post. Same goes for YouTube updates, Pinterest posts, or Google Plus updates. You get the idea.

IFTTT Recipes: Marketing campaign monitoring

Let's say, you are doing a promotion or a contest and you want participants to share a URL. Create a task to email you when a URL is tweeted - works every time.

Another handy trick involves a calendar. Do you want to see Twitter volume for each day? This recipe will put Twitter search results on your calendar.

IFTTT Recipes: Local Outreach

Social media can be a time-consuming task for local businesses. Find people in your area who are using Foursquare and sharing their activities on Twitter. Set up a task to look for Foursquare links and get an email with the info sent to you. Or, you can add people who use Foursquare to a Twitter list. Same goes for other apps, like Instagram. This recipe will add Instagram users to a list.

How To Set Up ifttt

Ready to get started with ifttt? Here is some more help.

ifttt Action Plan

Start with simple recipes to automate your busy life. Compare the results to your process and hand over the task to ifttt if you like the results.

I suggest you browse the recipes to get ideas. Use the filter for the channel you utilize the most. For me it is RSS feed. Create as many tasks as you can and keep the ones that are useful. Delete the less useful ones. Deactivate the ones that you use only at specific times, like during a marketing campaign or a conference.

How do you like ifttt now?

Update: (9/25/2012) IFTTT informed users that on September 27 they will remove all Twitter triggers as a result of Twitter's latest API changes. Restrictions affect pulling and re-publishing tweets to other services. Users will still be able to tweet from IFTTT.

About the Author: Lyena Solomon

I am leading ServiceNow digital localization strategy as Director of Localization, overseeing processes and bringing teams together. My SEO, PPC, Analytics, Optimization and UX background assist with internationalization and globalization efforts of our corporate site.


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