Tell yourself how many minutes of the day you give to the time sink that goes by the name of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or any other. The minutes add up. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to balance social media and productivity with a bit of web automation that can do all the grunt work for us while we can sit back and enjoy its tidbits? We really can because we came to know about IFTTT around 2011, which its creator Linden Tibbets aptly calls a “digital duct tape”.
IFTTT (If This Then That) is a wonderfully useful service that helps you set up a digital handshake between two web applications through “IFTTT recipes“. It could be backing up all your Instagram photos to Dropbox or even reminding you to pack an umbrella because it might rain. Yes, IFTTT can set up automated triggers for nearly 89000 things between any web services that allow a public API. That includes some of your favorite social networking websites. So, let’s cook a few recipes that will help us use our social networks (Facebook and Twitter especially) more effectively. It’s easy as pushing a button.
IFTTT Automation for Facebook
So much of our life is around Facebook isn’t it! The Facebook channel on IFTTT is one of the more popular ones and we have earlier shown you some hot recipes. Here’s a refresher:
Automate Your Facebook Updates: Angela’s Weekly Facebook Tips took a comprehensive look at how to automate your Facebook updates across social media like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest among others. The article is a must-read for some productivity hacks.
Automate Your Facebook Photos and Videos: Another Facebook Tip from Angela shows you how to get your photos and video from Flickr, Dropbox, Instagram, or YouTube into Facebook. She also adds a few neat ways to get the best photos your friends upload of you from Facebook out to somewhere useful.
Here are my favorite picks to automate Facebook sharing:
We share links that are of interest to us on Facebook. We can go back and hunt around for those links, but it’s more often a case of “update and forget” with social media. This recipe helps you keep a running record of all the links you posted on Facebook on an Evernote notebook for a quick look back. The lightning symbol under Facebook shows that the recipe supports Quick Triggers. Recipes that use Quick Triggers work as soon as they receive new Trigger data. You can also add other ingredients to activate the trigger like a custom message or a link description. To keep your Evernote data organized, name a specific notebook or use tags.
This is a handy recipe that helps you popularize your blogging with the Facebook crowd by automatically posting your latest blog post to Facebook. You can customize the Facebook message with a standard update. You can use this WordPress to Twitter recipe for the same end; but do ensure that you change the default custom fields with your own account details.
This IFTTT recipe helps you to send automated “Thank you” to everyone who sends you a birthday wish on Facebook. I would recommend you line this recipe up when you birthday approaches. You can add your custom message. The recipe author says — make sure to adjust the date to line up one day after your own birthday, otherwise you’re going to confuse a lot of people!
There are similar recipes you can use around other special days and holidays. For e.g. automating your New Year wishes.
Bookmarking read-worthy webpages for later is a single-click affair with Pocket. This IFTTT recipe posts the same link to Facebook as your status update which allows your friends the benefit of reading the same article.
IFTTT Automation for Twitter
Though Twitter can no longer be set up as the “If” trigger in IFTTT, you can still do a lot of interesting things, by posting into Twitter and keep your followers engaged.
Being a tech blogger, I have a leaning for this IFTTT hack especially after IFTTT welcomed The New York Times to its fold. You can also customize the recipe by choosing any of the triggers available under the dropdown. For instance, you can choose from NYT’s Science or Sports section to keep your followers engaged with the latest breaking news.
Set up IFTTT to pick the latest photo uploaded to your public Dropbox folder and post it automatically to Twitter. This is a nice workaround, if you have configured your smartphone uploads to be backed up to Dropbox automatically. With this recipe, you don’t have to tweet the photo separately…and can kill two birds with one stone to save time.
This IFTTT recipe picks up the “mentioned you on Twitter” keyword phrase and your Twitter handle to construct a private list on Twitter that you can go through later. To keep your engagement high, you can thank them later or actively engage them on the network. You can modify the search query on Gmail and specify your own using advanced Google Search operators.
I usually have my Gmail window open and also Google Chat. This recipe allows me to send out quick tweets without bothering to open Twitter or any Twitter client. Set up the recipe as described, but please be patient as the code sometimes takes time to arrive. It works just as well with Google Chat though the screenshot shows the icon for GTalk. Please note that GTalk is being merged with Hangouts.
A Few More Recommended Social Media Recipes
It’s a difficult job picking the recipes because of the variety of social media out there and the many ways to cross-post from one to the other. Here are a few picks which I personally like:
Pocket allows me to save articles so that I can read them later. Buffer gives me the latitude to share recommended links with social circles at opportune times. Bridging them together is a win-win combination. Using this recipe, you can feed your Buffer queue and keep it filled up.
Nancy’s wonderful post shows you the best way to schedule your Twitter updates by spacing them out optimally with Tweriod, Buffer, Pocket, and IFTTT. A must read.
Simple updates with quotes help to keep your Twitter stream flowing even when you are on a dry spell. A shared quote tells your followers, you are there. This recipe sets up Goodreads to deliver a quote every day to Twitter.
These are ten social media pickings from the channels of IFTTT. A thoughtful implementation of the right recipe should leave you with only one job – reading stuff you enjoy on the Web. The time consuming sharing and back-up jobs are handled by the digital Mr. Jeeves. Which are some of the IFTTT recipes you would recommend? Are there any obvious ones I have missed here that can really help to bring order to our social lives?