How to Save Yourself A Few Hours Every Week With IFTTT
By Pam Neely
Do you know what your time is worth? If you don’t, finding out is one of the most profitable exercises you can do. It’s not hard to do, either. Just tally up what you earn every month, then divide by how many hours it took you to earn it.
Once you know what your time is worth, outsourcing and automation gets a lot easier. You know which tasks are worth your time, and which aren’t.
Most of the small business owners in this group value their time to be worth at least $100 an hour. With a figure like that to work with, outsourcing some work – even up to $75 an hour – starts to look like a good deal.
It also starts to make automation look extremely attractive. According to that chart, saving even 2 hours a week nets out to thousands of dollars a year.
|Value of an Hour||Value of 2 hrs a week saved over the course of a year|
That’s the perspective I’d like you to hold while you read the rest of this post. Learning new automation tools is not everybody’s idea of a good time. But if you can shave even an hour or two of time off your to-do list every week, there are real benefits to be had. Like an additional employee. Or a new car.
If you’re already using If This Then That (IFTTT), keep reading anyway. You might pick up a few tricks. But if you’re not, it’s time to at least try. So I’ve laid out detailed instructions on how to do a few basic tasks. And no excuses about how you can’t afford it. IFTTT is free.
So what is it? It’s an app that lets you get other apps, websites, devices and services to talk to each other. The kind of stuff that most of us think we need an expensive developer to set up. Except we don’t.
IFTTT’s uses go way beyond just business applications. It can help with everything from parenting to home security, fitness to financial management. It can talk to refrigerators, lamps, garage door openers, your email, your music or your car. For this post, we’re just focused on basic digital marketing tasks.
One word of warning about IFTTT. Many of the recipes I read about I couldn’t actually get to work. Many of them do work, of course. But after testing over 20 different recipes, I’ve come to be cautiously optimistic when I come across a new recipe. All the recipes listed here do work – I have personally tested them.
There is a bit of setup to do but before we jump in. It’ll take less than 15 minutes. Here’s what you need to do:
- Create an IFTTT account.
- Download the IFTTT app for your phone. This will let you manage your account on the go. It will also streamline the process for notifications and a few other features. Get the app for iPhone here and the one for Android here. There are tablet apps, too.
- To speed up the process of running “recipes” (that’s what IFTTT calls the automated actions it takes) connect a couple of services (called “channels”) you use often. These are a good start:
- Google Drive
To connect a channel, go to the “Channels” link in the top navigation. Then search for the site, device or service you want to connect.
Click on the icon for the channel, then click on the big blue connect button on the next page.
You’ll be asked to log into the service, and then you’re done. The service is connected to IFTTT.
Not too hard, right? So let’s set up some recipes.
1) Automatically share from Facebook to Pinterest.
Facebook is getting more an more visual, and Pinterest is starting to drive serious traffic for some people. So let’s hook them up. This recipe has some extra features that make it particularly useful.
Just click Add to add this to your recipes. Then go up to the top navigation again and click “My Recipes”. You’ll see the new recipe in the list, like this:
Click the pencil icon on the far right. You’ll be able to edit the recipes from the next page:
There are other recipes that will pin any photo you upload to Pinterest, but I like the extra control this particular recipe has.
It will only pin images that you’ve added a specific hashtag to. That means you don’t have to post everything from Facebook to Pinterest. It also means you can specify which Pinterest board you add the image to.
Say you wanted to add Facebook photos to three different boards. You could create three different recipes, set each one up with its own hashtag and board, and then quickly add different photos to those three Pinterest boards.
Being able to sort the images like that makes for more relevant Pinterest boards. If you were a graphic designer, for instance, you might want a board for ebook and report covers you’ve created. You could create another board for direct mail pieces you’ve created, and another for websites you’ve designed.
Here’s how it looks in action. I post a new photo on Facebook – with the “#pin” hashtag:
And voilà – it appears on the Pinterest board:
Sometimes it takes 10-15 minutes for the new pin to appear.
2) When someone on Twitter tweets with a specific hashtag, add them to a specific Twitter list
I love the idea of Twitter lists, but the idea of sorting through the 3,000+ people I follow on Twitter gives me a headache. So I figured out how to automate it.
Here’s the recipe to make it happen:
As before, just click the big blue Add button, then go find the added recipe in the “My Recipes” section. Click the pencil icon in the listing to edit the recipe.
Here’s the settings:
You can keep things simple and just add people to a Twitter list based on one hashtag, like I’ve done here. Or you can use Twitter’s advanced search operators to create a much more defined list. I got it to work with two hashtags – here’s the link to that recipe.
This works best if you create the Twitter list in your Twitter account first. If you’ve got the IFTTT app installed on your phone, you can also set the recipe up to send you notifications every time it’s triggered. That’s fun for the first ten times or so (just to confirm it’s working), but you’ll probably want to turn notifications off after that. Notifications reduce your productivity.
There’s a variation on this recipe that might be really great for your promotion work. You can add anyone who’s mentioned you on Twitter to a specific Twitter list.
Here it is in action:
Why do this? Because anyone who’s mentioned you is at least sort of interested in your work. They might be worth reaching out to later if you’ve got a blog post or another piece of content to promote.
You could get even fancier and add their Twitter handle to a Google Drive spreadsheet. It all depends on how you want to use their information.
3) Get text messages within minutes after a new blog post is published.
Trouble is, on really popular blogs, by the time you get the email announcing their new post, up to a dozen other people may have commented already. That means your comment gets buried. As a result, your comment – and you – get far less exposure.
So beat everybody to the punch. Set up this recipe to get a text message within minutes after a post has been published. All you need is the blog’s feed URL and the ability to receive text messages. When I tested this, I got a text message about 23-16 minutes after a post was published. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough to get your comment near the front of the line.
Here are the settings:
Try this out with 3-5 blogs that you’d either like to guest post for, or where you’d like to build a relationship with the blogger. If you leave useful comments that contribute to the discussion, the blogger will be far more likely to recognize you and respond to a pitch.
Those three recipes barely scratch the surface of what can be done with IFTTT, but they’re enough to get you started. Hopefully, they’re useful enough to get you hooked.
Speak your mind
Do you have any favorite, must-use IFTTT recipes? Give them a mention in the comments.
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