Business owners are constantly striving for cost-effective ways to boost productivity and efficiency. They likely already rely on internet-based apps and services to streamline daily tasks, but the sheer number of available services and apps can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, a single web-based tool called IFTTT can serve as an automation hub that helps to integrate internet-connected apps. We’ll explore IFTTT and how business owners can use the service to drive traffic and engagement, track social media mentions, save files to the cloud and much more.
IFTTT is a free web service and mobile app that helps users automate web-based tasks and boost productivity by making popular apps work together. IFTTT stands for “If This Then That,” an homage to the programming conditional statement. Using formulas called “recipes,” users can dictate task automations, so if something happens in one app, the event triggers an action in another app. For instance, you can set up an automation so that if you share a photo on Facebook, it triggers the action of automatically posting that photo to Twitter, Instagram, Flickr and other photo-sharing services.
Using IFTTT is straightforward: You set up an account and connect IFTTT to your devices to start using automations. Here’s how to get started:
To begin using IFTTT, first create an account. Visit IFTTT’s Get Started page, and follow these steps:
You’re now ready to start using IFTTT to automate your devices and software.
Did you know? IFTTT’s free version allows you to create five automations. The Pro version ($5 per month) provides 20 applets and higher speeds, while a Pro+ account ($10 per month) gives you unlimited applets and developer tools.
Once you’ve created an account, there are myriad ways to use IFTTT to automate your devices and software. The best part? The site has tons of guides to help you with specific functions.
For example, you can automatically link your SoundCloud likes to your Spotify account. When music is available on both platforms, it will appear immediately in your Spotify library. Another example is to have your Honeywell thermostat turn off the heat when you exit a room.
To get started, search for the proper guide on the IFTTT website, and click Connect. The guide will walk you through each step to complete the process. Follow these steps to create a custom automation:
IFTTT is incredibly easy to understand, and the website is user-friendly. In most cases, you just follow the on-screen instructions to set up your automation in seconds.
Businesses use IFTTT to simplify many processes and save time with productivity apps. Here’s a look at some popular IFTTT uses:
It can be time-consuming and overwhelming to monitor social media, news sites, blogs, forums and other websites for any mentions of your company. Spend your time running your business, and let IFTTT keep an eye out.
Matthew Hurst, a public relations and marketing professional at an S&P 500 company, uses IFTTT to track his employer’s presence online.
“Part of my job is collecting clips of news coverage about my employer, as well as some social media monitoring,” Hurst said. “There are tons of tools to track mentions of brands in social media these days, but in my experience, IFTTT works better than Google Alerts to track news coverage.”
In one IFTTT recipe Hurst uses, IFTTT tracks RSS feeds for mentions of the brand in major news aggregators and then sends him email notifications.
“For example, I set up an alert for when news about my employer is trending on Techmeme, which aggregates news stories from across the web,” he said. “I also set up a tracker for mentions of my employer on Reddit to keep tabs on discussions in this online community.”
Tip: To strategically keep tabs on how your organization is perceived, consider using one of the best online reputation management services that handles content creation and crisis management along with online monitoring and reporting.
Social media marketing is an ongoing effort; just because you tweeted something once doesn’t mean people actually saw it. Jason Lyvers, owner of marketing company Louisville Innovative, uses IFTTT to strategically keep the company’s content in circulation.
“One of the ways we use IFTTT for our social media business is for reposting our content on a monthly basis to try and bring more attention to blogs we’ve written that may not have been seen the first time around or as our following grows,” Lyvers said.
“Anytime we write a new blog, we add the link to an IFTTT recipe that will post it to our Twitter account each month on a specific day and time. This way, we don’t have to think about which posts need to be pushed out again. They’re scheduled the day they’re written, and we can keep that content as green as possible and get it in front of as many people as possible on a monthly basis.”
Driving traffic to your business website or specialized landing page is crucial to any marketing plan, but not every business owner has the time or resources to devote to increasing online visitors. However, IFTTT can automate the process for you. [Follow these tips to create a business marketing plan.]
Frank Buck, owner of Frank Buck Consulting, uses IFTTT to drive traffic to his blog, one of the primary ways people are introduced to his business.
“Every time a new post appears on my blog, one IFTTT recipe advertises that post on my professional Facebook page,” Buck said. “A second recipe does the same on Twitter, another on LinkedIn. I never have to think about promoting my material through these social media sites. IFTTT automates the process.”
Need to get social with your customers? IFTTT can help. Many business owners use IFTTT to drive engagement between clients and their guests.
One of the interesting ways to use IFTTT is to help connect events and venues with guests’ Facebook and Twitter accounts, automate its social media efforts via tweets, SMS messages and more. [Related article: Do’s and Don’ts for Text Message Marketing]
IFTTT’s ability to crawl the web can do more than alert you when your company is mentioned online; it can also help you grow your client base.
Jeff Ferguson, CEO of Fang Digital Marketing, said IFTTT has helped his company seek clients. His IFTTT recipe searches for tweets involving a specific keyword and then alerts the company so it can seize the opportunity and reach out to the user. “If they ask a question about a service that we provide, we can be right there with an answer.”
Tip: Use CRM and marketing automation software in tandem to strengthen relationships with leads, help them seamlessly become customers, and give sales reps the full picture.
Saving files and media to the best cloud backup and storage solutions is easy when you can access the service via your desktop or mobile device. However, to save files and media from websites, you must download them to your device first. Using IFTTT, you can skip that extra step and send files directly to cloud services, such as Dropbox, straight from the web.
Abi Cowell, a blogger at Very Veganish, uses IFTTT to save tagged Instagram photos to Dropbox instantly.
“One of my IFTTT recipes is to save all Instagram [photos] tagged with
#365DaysofVegan to my Dropbox folder of the same name,” she said. “That way, I don’t have to go to Instagram and manually save the photos to my Dropbox for use on my blog or in newsletters on Mailchimp.”
Using IFTTT can help your business in numerous ways.
If you publish content frequently, keeping records can be a tedious, painstaking task. Instead of manually listing when you’ve published each piece of content, have IFTTT automate your records for you.
Courtney Seiter, vice president of people at Hologram Inc. and former blog editor at Raven Tools, uses IFTTT to organize blog posts.
“I’m trying a new IFTTT recipe that adds all of our blog posts to a spreadsheet,” she said. “It includes the date published, headline and URL. I plan to use it for content archiving and auditing purposes.”
This method works for other spreadsheet-related tasks, such as backing up your contacts from your iPhone to a spreadsheet and logging receipts from your Gmail to a Google spreadsheet.
Innovators don’t have time to drown in administrative tasks. Instead of wasting time creating invoices and quotes, maintaining client files and performing other administrative time-suckers, you can have a sequence of IFTTT recipes do all of that for you.
Chris Gilchrist, founder of web design and SEO company Hit Reach, did precisely this and saved his company thousands of dollars a year by freeing up time previously spent on administrative tasks.
“We built a chain of automated events using IFTTT and Zapier [IFTTT’s counterpart], which does 30 minutes of menial tasks for us when someone orders a website review via our site,” Gilchrist said. Hit Reach’s automation system completes such tasks as adding client information to the company’s contacts, creating projects, maintaining client files, and invoicing.
For many businesses, it’s all about who gets there first. IFTTT allows you to track what competitors are doing online while helping you grab prospects before they do.
Barry Maher, a speaker and author of Filling the Glass: The Skeptic’s Guide to Positive Thinking in Business, uses IFTTT to keep an eye on opportunities so he can grab them before other speakers do. “I use IFTTT to get speaking leads as much as a day before many of our competitors get them. The first response often gets the most attention, especially if eventually 70 different speakers might reply.”
The magic of IFTTT is that it integrates with some of the best apps available to help you multitask and do more in less time.
Brian Patterson, a partner at Go Fish Digital, said IFTTT’s integration with two of his favorite apps helps him be more productive and active on social networks.
“Productivity is important to me, and I used to find myself stopping in my tracks to read an interesting article I came across. With the Pocket app, you hit a little button, and it saves it so that you can read it later. Out of sight, out of mind – and yet I can catch up on it in my downtime. IFTTT takes Pocket to the next level.”
Patterson uses one IFTTT recipe that allows the content he saves for later viewing on Pocket to get tweeted out automatically; this ensures he is sharing quality content and staying active on Twitter. He uses another recipe to ensure saved items also get sent to Evernote, a note-taking and archiving app.
“Evernote is my brain, and I save anything important in it so that I can quickly pull it up later,” Patterson said. “IFTTT makes this all so seamless and automatic.”
Sara Angeles contributed to the writing and reporting in