Lately, I’ve been experimenting with IFTT, which stands for ‘If This Then That’.
IFTTT is an app, a service that automatically does certain actions for you (the ‘that’) based on predefined triggers (the ‘this’).
Let me give a few examples:
- If I star a post in my Google Reader, add it to Buffer
- If an email comes into my Gmail with the word ‘newsletter’ in it, forward it to Evernote
- If I favorite a Tweet on Twitter, retweet it
- Download my Instagram photo’s automatically to Dropbox
There are many channels to choose from, including Facebook, Buffer, Twitter, Gmail, Evernote, Foursquare, etc. You activate each channel once, then create a task or ‘recipe’ which is a combination of a trigger and the corresponding action.
IFTTT checks every 15 minutes for new triggers and executes the action.
Here are a few of the recipes I’ve made for IFTTT:
Will It Save You Time?
IFTTT sounds like an incredible time saving app and in theory that’s the case. Some of the IFTTT recipes do save time. Take the automatic forward from starred Gmail mails to Evernote for instance, or in my case the automatic forwarding of Amazon orders to Evernote (you can even specify the inbox and add tags, very tailor made). Both very practical and useful.
There are also some really cool and nerdy ones, like getting a warning and reminder to bring your umbrella when it’s about to rain. Or getting a notification when certain people tweet, or when articles with specified key words are published somewhere on the web. You could even set up a call or a text to your cell phone at certain triggers (‘text me if my favorite blog posts a new post’). That’s time saving indeed.
I’m just not too convinced of the recipes that have to do with posting on social media.
The problem is that you can’t customize it. Take the recipe for starred tweets to the Buffer app that I’ve tried out. I can only add a standard text for it to add on every single tweet I create. So all my IFTTT-generated tweets to Buffer will say ‘Great post’ for instance, followed by the link and blog name. That’s not going to do you much good in social media, where the idea is to recommend posts personally.
It’s the same with the recipe for automatically posting new posts from my blog on Facebook. I tried that, but I can’t add anything other than a standard ‘New blog post’ and that really doesn’t work. Besides, automated posts to Facebook still don’t do as well as hand-posted updates, they don’t show up in people’s timelines quite as often.
Another suggestion for a recipe is to send tweets to followers who have retweeted you or mentioned you or to send new followers an automated tweet. Anyone who’s serious about social media really doesn’t want to go there.
So is IFTTT as time saving as it looks?
Definitely. There are loads of time saving possibilities here, especially for tasks you’d otherwise have to do yourself, manually. The more of the ‘channels’ IFTTT facilitates you use, the more interesting the app is. But I’d stay away from the social media posting options, because while they may save time, they sort of take the social out of it which is not what you want.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with IFTTT.
Got any cool or handy recipes to share?