If you’re a social media manager, chances are, you spend a lot of time syndicating content across different feeds. You’re probably also understaffed.
It’s a lot of work maintaining multiple social feeds. Say you’ve published a new blog post. Well, no one’s going to see it unless you share it on Twitter. And Facebook. And Tumblr. So there you go again, repeating yourself again across the internet. Don’t you ever wonder — couldn’t a robot do this for me?
The website’s premise is based on a simple programming principle: “If This, Then That.” It means: if one action happens, then do this other action.
What makes Ifttt different from other websites of its kind is its customizations — it to cuts through the clutter to do exactly what you need. First, specify a trigger action, like a new post to an RSS feed, or an email from a specific person. Then, specify an action, like create a Tumblr post, or ping your phone. Then, assemble the recipe. If there’s a new post on this RSS feed, create a new Tumblr post. If I get an email from mom, send me a text. This flexibility is powerful stuff.
I’ve been using Ifttt for nearly 10 months now, and it’s indispensable to our social media outreach. Here are some examples of how I use Ifttt in my job as the New Media Strategist at America’s Test Kitchen.
Automatically syndicate a daily photo to Tumblr and Facebook
Our staff photographer, Steve Klise, posts a behind-the-scenes photograph of our Test Kitchen every day to our blog, The Feed. I know that our audience Facebook loves these photographs, but downloading and re-uploading these photographs to post to Facebook every morning is tedious and boring. And, why do something that a robot can do?
So, I tell Ifttt to do the work for me. My command: If a new item shows up on this RSS feed, then post it to Facebook.
On Facebook, Ifttt grabs the image URL from the RSS feed and uploads the new daily photograph to an album titled “Test Kitchen Snapshots” on our official Facebook page. It posts straight to our Timeline.
The Result: Hundreds extra of likes and comments without needing me to manually push the post to different feeds.
Automatically convert a tweet to a natural-language, Facebook-friendly post
I know that a lot of us post to both Twitter and Facebook at the same time, but sometimes, the Twitter syntax just doesn’t make sense on Facebook. Hashtags, at-replies – they don’t belong in Zuckerberg’s walled garden.
Here at America’s Test Kitchen, we post a #QuickTip to Twitter every weekday at 2 p.m. Writing these involves research, verification, and condensing down to 140 characters. That’s a lot of work for a single tweet that most of our Twitter followers will never see.
Using Ifttt, we can push any #QuickTip tweet into Facebook Page status update. The best part? Ifttt converts the tweet to a status update without making it obvious that it began its life as a tweet.
Here’s how it starts:
And here’s how it looks after I instruct Ifttt to strip the hashtag, and add a natural-language label to lengthen the post to more than 140 characters:
How do we do this? First, we tell Ifttt to listen to any tweet @TestKitchen sends out with the hashtag #QuickTip. Then, once it grabs the tweet, we tell it to strip the hashtag. We also append an additional label (“Quick Tip of The Day”) in front of the content, something we couldn’t do on Twitter because of the character limit. As you look at the panel below, note that any instruction in grey is hardcoded in, while any instruction in a blue ellipse contains information that will be supplied in realtime.
The result: A natural language Facebook page status update with interesting, informative content. The #QuickTip tweets that we put so much work into every day gets automatically shared with our Facebook fans, gaining us an additional 16,000 views a day.
Customize your Instagram posts
We love to take Instagram snapshots of the testing that goes on in the kitchen, but since most of our fans and followers don’t use Instagram, we also syndicate the photographs to Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. For Twitter, I use Instagram’s native Instagram-to-Twitter plugin, but for Tumblr and Facebook, I like to have a bit more control over how the message looks when it posts, especially if some of our older users don’t know what Instagram is.
Using Ifttt, I can append any language I’d like, such as: “A Live Instagram Snapshot from the Test Kitchen.”
Here’s how to build the command:
Ifttt also allows me to upload our Instagram photographs into a neatly organized “Live From the Test Kitchen” album on our Facebook Page. (Again, our older users may not understand an album named “Instagram.”) Here’s how the album looks like:
The result: Every time Ifttt automatically pushes an Instagram snapshot to Facebook, the response we get is overwhelmingly positive, with lots of likes and comments. It’s a great way for folks to get a live, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the Test Kitchen, while at the same time boosting our page’s interaction score.
Create a searchable archive of your tweets, and more
I love exploring Ifttt’s “Browse” section because it gives me great ideas on how to better use the website’s tools. I recently discovered this neat little action that archives your tweets into a Dropbox text file – in realtime. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to build a search archive of our Twitter history. Here’s the command in Ifttt:
Here’s the output:
Here are a few other fantastic recipes I’ve discovered in the Ifttt “Browse” section. It’s easy to apply these templates to your own Ifttt account:
- If I’m tagged in a photo on Facebook, save a copy to Dropbox.
- If I check-in on Foursquare, save the event to Google Calendar (to create a check-in history calendar).
- If I tweet with the hashtag #fb, post the Facebook status without the hashtag.
- If I “favorite” a tweet, send the link to Instapaper.
- If I post a link post on Facebook, tweet it.
And as proof that Ifttt can really do everything, If I’m in an awkward conversation and text Ifttt “help me,” then call me to help me escape.
So there you have it — more social engagement on a daily basis with very little work. Obviously, these automated posts only make up a small minority of our social media feed, but I’ve found Ifttt to be a powerful supplement to the work that we do. The more that can be automated, the more time we have to work on cool projects like like awesome blogger campaigns or infographics about cakes.
Steph Yiu is the New Media Strategist at America’s Test Kitchen, where she helped launch The Feed. She is also the founder of Denizen, an online magazine for Third Culture Kids. A graduate of Northwestern University, she was formerly the web editor at the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye. Follow her on Twitter: @crushgear.