If This Then That, better known as IFTTT, is a web service that connects different products, apps and other services together for better business automation. For example, you can connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts so what you post to one gets reposted on the other. You can also do a lot more.
Web apps have become more and more important to businesses. Services that were once provided by proprietary software are now being done by cheap, or even free, online tools. However, when you have a dozen different online services, it is useful to automate some of the interactions between them. Otherwise it’s almost impossible to keep on top of things.
IFTTT calls each interaction between services a Recipe. Each Recipe links two services. One provides the Trigger and the other the Action. So continuing the example above, you could use any new status update you post to Facebook as the trigger and creating a new tweet on Twitter as the action.
We’ve covered IFTTT in a lot more depth already at Tuts+. If this is your first time using it, check out How to Automate Anything with IFTTT before continuing.
The best thing about IFTTT is that it is free to use. Zapier, the other option I’ve looked at, is more powerful and has more apps but is a premium solution. If you can automate your business with a free tool instead of a paid one, it makes sense to do so.
In this tutorial I’m going to focus on some of the best IFTTT recipes out there for automating business tasks. There are millions of possible actions so this will be far from a comprehensive list. To see all the ones that other people have created, check out IFTTT’s recipes page.
How to Set Up IFTTT Recipes (Quick Screencast)
Let's first demonstrate how to setup IFTTT Recipes in this quick screencast. I use the example of pulling @mentions on Twitter into a Google spreadsheet. This way, you can see just how simple it is to set up business automation workflows between your favorite apps.
Now, let’s look at some of the great recipes available for small businesses automation.
Social Media - IFTTT Recipes
Managing your business’ social media should be as simple as possible. You want to minimise the workload while maximising the consistency across platforms. This is where IFTTT comes in.
With this recipe you can update your profile picture on Facebook and it will be automatically updated on Twitter. If you’re running a campaign or just using a themed profile picture, it’s a great way to make sure everything stays in sync.
When you post a photo to Instagram, it’s easy to flick the little switch that says Share to Twitter. That’s not the best way to post to both services for your business though. Facebook and Twitter refuse to play nice with each other, so any photo posted to Twitter through the Instagram app just appears as a link.
With this recipe, IFTTT takes your Instagram photos and adds them as native Twitter photos. This way, no matter what social media platform your fans are on, they see things as you want them to.
Whether you’re running a competition or just want to keep a database of how people are reacting to your product, this IFTTT recipe is perfect. Whenever someone tweets a particular hashtag, like say your company’s name or slogan, it gets added to a Google Docs Spreadsheet.
Just add this recipe, let it run and you’ll automatically build a database of who’s saying what about you. There are companies that charge thousands of dollars for this kind of service!
In my tutorial on using Zapier for your business, creating a Zap that sent any tweets you received to a dedicated Slack channel was the example I used. With IFTTT you can get the same effect.
This recipe automatically adds the results of any Twitter search, like your username or a hashtag, to a Slack channel of your choice. Perfect for seeing what users are saying.
Campaign Management - IFTTT Recipes
When you’re planning a marketing effort, like a new MailChimp campaign, it’s a good idea to make sure everyone knows it’s coming up. If you’re offering a special deal or a competition, the chances are you’re going to see a spike in sales, traffic and customer support requests.
With this recipe, when you schedule a campaign in MailChimp, IFTTT will automatically create an event in Google Calendar at the same time. Now your whole team knows what’s going on.
As well as an email newsletter, social media is a powerful outreach tool. If you’re running a campaign, the odds are you’re going to be covering as many platforms as possible. Just like with the MailChimp recipe above, you want your team to know what’s going to happen when.
With this IFTTT recipe, any social media posts you schedule in Buffer will get a Google Calendar event added for when it's scheduled to go live.
Whenever you run a marketing effort, you want to step back and evaluate things after it’s over. To do that, you need to track important information like click-throughs and open rates. As Peter Drucker famously said, “What gets measured, gets managed.”
This IFTTT recipe will help you with the measuring. It automatically adds the stats from a MailChimp campaign to a Google Docs Spreadsheet. This way, you can see what works and how things change over time.
Task Mangement - IFTTT Recipes
If, like we do, you use Trello to manage tasks you might find you need to keep making the same cards over and over again. Perhaps you have a weekly card for each member of staff where you assign their tasks, or have a blog that someone writes to every Friday.
With this recipe you can automate this tedious task. IFTTT will automatically create the new Trello cards on a schedule.
There are plenty of apps out there that do reminders, but maybe you don’t want to clog up your calendar with unimportant or recurring events. As long as you’ve got the IF app installed on your phone, you can use IFTTT to ping you.
You should treat this recipe as an example and create reminders for anything you need. It just sends you a simple push notification at a certain time and date. Perfect for little nudges.
Keeping track of employees is no fun. Having a manual timesheet for them to check in and out of is demotivating, but other options can be expensive. With IFTTT you can roll your own time tracker.
This recipe tracks the times people arrive and leave a set location in Google Calendar. It’s a perfect hands-off time tracking tool. You don’t have to breath down your employees necks but still have a rough idea of who’s at the office when.
News - IFTTT Recipes
If you’re running your own business, it’s always a good idea to keep abreast of what’s going on in the world. It might lead you to crucial business opportunities or just help with your small talk with clients.
This recipe sends you an email every Saturday with the most popular Business Day articles from the New York Times. It’s perfect for staying up to date.
While this recipe emails you some of Business Insider’s “10 Things You Need To Know This Morning” every day, the important part is actually how it does it. It takes an RSS feed and sends you an email whenever there is new content that matches the trigger.
If there are any industry publications you want to keep track of, or particular round ups you want to follow, it’s a great way to do it. You can modify the recipe so that it takes a different RSS feed and trigger. That way you can have your own customised news service.
IFTTT is a great way to automate simple tasks. It’s not as powerful as Zapier but it is free and easier to use. The recipes I’ve featured today should give you some idea of the kind of things IFTTT is good for. If it fits your needs, you should use it.
If you're looking to expand your approach to business productivity, jump into more great Envato Tuts+ tutorials:
- ProductivityHow to Create Your Own Productivity SystemDavid Masters
- Productivity15 Business Productivity Apps to Work Better + Save TimeLaura Spencer
If you’ve any questions about automating your business with IFTTT, we’re here to help. Feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments below. Also, share examples of the best IFTTT recipes you've used to improve your business automation workflow.