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Using ifttt for managing social media marketing

Author's avatar By Chris Soames 23 May, 2012
Essential Essential topic

ifttt : what is it and how can I use it as a marketer?

Short for "If This Then That", ifttt is an online service that allows easy management of social services. We've heard more marketers mentioning it recently, so thought it was worth sharing to see whether it could help you save time. Alternatively, we're interested to hear how you use? Do you have any other tips to share - these "recipes" are a good place to start if you want to see how it could help you. Here's a simple example:

If This Then That

You can see it's designed for people managing multiple social outposts (or channels as they call them) to manage at once and are looking for more efficient ways to maintain services.

It's a relatively new alternative for using other tools to automate social sharing. Dave Chaffey wrote some time ago about Tools for syndicating and tracking your social media interactions such as Feedburner, Twitterfeed and the LinkedIn plugin. We continue to use these on Smart Insights.

Caution required

Although it is possible to save time so that each new blog post is automatically posted to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, we certainly wouldn't say that's all you should do in your social updates. Participation and interaction are at the heart of social media marketing, so you still need to socialise by asking and answering questions and sharing other content you have read. Yes read, you can use this to share based on keywords in posts, but we don't advocate this and don't do it. The quality of what you share reflects on you the sharer and we haven't seen a tool that filters for the quality of the content.

It's a matter of striking a balance. We use Feedburner and Twitterfeed to automatically post alerts on news to the Smart Insights Twitter, but we do manual posts to Facebook and Google+. There's no right or wrong way, it's about getting the balance right for you to best fit your brand and the needs of the audience.

A more detailed example

So, in short ifttt allows you to connect a service, such as Facebook listen for events, such as a new post and then complete an action. The actions can be anything from publishing to dropbox to sending you a text message. A nice step by step guide for creating a new tasks as mentioned on Acquisition engine is below:

Step by Step Setup for Tweeting a new post on your blog or another

  1. Choose Trigger Channel (Google Reader)
  2. Choose a Trigger (New Starred Item)
  3. Create Trigger
  4. Choose Action Channel (Twitter)
  5. Choose an Action (Post a new Tweet)
  6. Complete Action Fields (Optional add relevant #hashtag)
  7. Create & Activate

IFTTT Language


Channels are services that we use in everyday life, some of us use lots of these others are more selective. The channels are what you set the rule against to trigger the event. So an update on Facebook or new photo on Instagram... You need to login or authorise any channels you wish to use for this service before you can create the recipes.

ittt channels

Triggers & actions

The more simple area of ifttt, triggers and actions are the basic rules you put in place that ensure an event takes place. A simple trigger could be a new blog post appears in a RSS feed. An even simpler version would be a time of day. For example, at 7am text me todays weather. The trigger been that 7am was the time.


Recipes are the joining of a channel, trigger & an action. You can subscribe or add any number of recipes to your account. Once active recipes will run every 15 minutes, something ittt calls the polling period.


5 Social media recipes to  streamline and save time

Here are some more examples, which we think are some of the more useful.

Possibly one of the most useful I have seen on ifttt is called "Save me" which will trigger a phone call at a given time, during a long boring meeting for example, I've not used it yet... 🙂

The fact that recipes are public gives the service great value as you will receive new ideas and ways of improving or streamlining your social media tasks (personal & business). The channels & recipes seem to grow daily and some of the ideas I would have never thought of and yet are genuinely useful! Well worth checking out, I have no doubt there will be at least one recipe you will find useful!

Early challenges with the system is the volume of recipes - how you categorise or navigate through them is clunky and will get worse as the more users come onto the system. But overall and considering it is still in Beta, well worth reviewing as a way to boost your social media efforts. But remember, Spam is evil!

Author's avatar

By Chris Soames

Chris Soames is a Smart Insights blogger and consultant, he has worked in digital marketing for over 6 years with the last few years managing international web strategies for a leading travel brand. Now the Commercial Director at First 10, an Integrated marketing agency, he helps clients get clarity on their marketing strategy and create campaigns engineered to engage with their consumers to help drive sell-through. Most of all, Chris enjoys working with talented people who want to create great (& commercial) things not just tick boxes.

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