Monday, October 24, 2016

IFTTT - Sharing the cheap and lazy way

Are you looking for ways to automate tasks that you find yourself repeating over and over throughout the course of a day, week or month? Whether you're wanting to work smarter - not harder or if you just admit you're lazy and want to skip a few steps, this might be beneficial to you. For the record, I am going to write this from the simple blogger's perspective (aka - My perspective) because this is what introduced me to this app. 

You may have guessed it from the image above, but if not, I am referring to the If This Then That (IFTTT) app. The name pretty much explains it. I you do "ABC" -  then "XYZ" will happen. It's a free service where you connect various accounts, devices, profiles, etc, and then create recipes that will trigger subsequent automatic actions. There are currently 360+ options that you can connect in a virtually unlimited number of ways.

There are of course a few limitations like only being able to connect one "profile" per account. For instance, I have two Blogger accounts, but can only connect one of them for actions. I could always create another IFTTT account for the other Blogger account, but if I'm going to go that far I might as well choose a different platform. The biggest drawback I have found so far is that you can't delay a trigger. (I'll touch on that again in a minute.)

Like I said, I will walk you through a few simple recipes I use today pertaining to my own blogging activities. Since I use Blogger to write my content, it's already shared automatically to my Google+ profile. I also like to share it to my blog's Facebook page right away as well. That's where this recipe comes in handy:

Anything I post on my connected Blogger account will automatically share a link post to my Facebook page. I also have a recipe setup so that anything I post to my Instagram account automatically shares to my Facebook page as well. Blogger and Instagram are my two primary "starting points" for content. 

You may think I'm smart or you may think I'm lazy, but I like to keep things simple. I point a number of recipes to my Facebook page and then have other recipes pointing out from there. It saves me from having to make a ton of recipes and it's easier for me to keep track of. 

Every recipe you create has a variety of options to tweak for each one as well. For instance, I originally setup my Instagram recipe to only trigger a post to Facebook if it also had the #averagejester hashtag. That way I could limit which posts automatically shared to my Facebook page. Once my content hits my Facebook page, this recipe kicks in:

I am very new to Twitter and I knew that I would forget to add content there on a regular basis. Setting up this recipe (actually I have a couple) makes sure that at least my Facebook content will get shared to my Twitter feed. I have one recipe to tweet any links that hit my Facebook page as well as one that tweets any images that hit my Facebook page. Since I have the other recipes above for Blogger and Instagram, those all go through to Twitter by themselves. 

Here's where I wish the whole delayed trigger existed. Or rather, I wish is was simple and straight forward. There are ways to cheat the recipes and kinda make it work, but it's more work than I feel is worth it. 

I would prefer to write a post on Blogger, which shares immediately to Google+, then have the trigger delay a few hours or a day before sharing it to Facebook. Following that thought process, I would also like the recipe for Facebook to Twitter to delay another few hours or a day. Basically, I would rather sprinkle out the shares of a given post over about a day rather than a blast share across all platforms in 15 minutes. (Note: The IFTTT recipes run in 0-15 minutes after the initial trigger is pulled.) I created the following recipe as a half-manual trigger for myself:

This recipe will create a reminder in my iOS Reminder app every time I post new content to Blogger. The fact that I'm actually using an iOS app is more impressive than the recipe I created. I use this as a reminder I will see on my phone later that day. (It's an instant trigger, but it will stay a reminder until I clear it.) It's a reminder for me to manually re-share my original Google+ public post to my Google+ Collection that it relates to. It's not that great, but something I'm playing around with because I keep forgetting to share a copy to my Collections. It's a real first world problem. 

I must say that I am more than a little disappointed that Google+ is nowhere to be found on IFTTT. They have Gmail and Google Calendar options, but no Google+?? I am actually looking at a few other options like or Buffer for the blogging side of things. Those have better bells and whistles for scheduling tasks rather than the instant-trigger recipes of IFTTT.

I will hang on to IFTTT though for other things. You never know when I'm going to start throwing dinner parties. If I did, I could set a Google Calendar event to trigger my WiFi thermostat to adjust the temperature in my house prior to the party. can do that for you.

I encourage you to take a look at IFTTT - even if it's just out of curiosity. There is a ridiculous amount of options to play around with in the recipes. Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite IFTTT recipe. I have fun trying out different variations. Until next time....