I love figuring out how things work.
Much of the fun in my job comes from dissecting other successful projects, websites and campaigns across many sectors and finding newer, better ways to create impact for our clients.
I’m also a big fan of automation. If I can find ways to decrease the amount of time it takes to achieve the desired outcome, I’ve done my job.
So when I heard about a free service called If This Then That, IFTTT for short, a couple years ago, I was eager to test it out. Since then, it has become one of my favorite free tools on the internet.
What is IFTTT?
On a basic level, If This Then That is a way to connect your favorite web-based services and get them to do things for you – automatically. Think of it as your own virtual assistant who never skips a beat. Just tell him what to do, and he’ll get it done for you.
I’ve used IFTTT (pronounced “ift”) for a variety of tasks over the years – from auto-publishing Instagram photos to an embedded Flickr gallery on a web page to monitoring for mid-century modern furniture on Craigslist and receiving a text message the instant something is posted.
But the capabilities of IFTTT expand far beyond personal projects; the service is extremely useful for businesses as well.
How Does It Work?
IFTTT allows users to link up 68 of the most popular services, sites and apps from across the web and create “recipes” between them. Anytime the first action in your recipe – if this – takes place, IFTTT triggers the second half – then that- for you.
How Is This Helpful?
Ever feel like there are things in your business that you’ve been meaning to implement but just don’t have the time to do? Social media, perhaps? Bookkeeping? Following up with leads? IFTTT is a great tool to help you streamline those processes and batch them instead of finding another five hours in your workday to get everything done.
IFTTT allows users to set something up once and reap the rewards moving forward without requiring a lot of manual maintenance. Remember, the more time you spend building systems that run themselves, the more time you will free up for yourself down the road.
Here are a few time-saving recipes for businesses:
- Recipe 1: Anytime someone tweets a specific keyword or hashtag on Twitter, save it to a spreadsheet on a Google doc.
- Keep a pulse on social media without being tethered to your phone or computer all day. Use this recipe to store tweets about specific products, keywords or your competition to read and follow up with later on. (Note: Depending on the keyword or hashtag you choose, it could result in a lot of results. Choose wisely.)
- Recipe 2: Add Receipts & Orders to a Spreadsheet
- Do you get an email notification when someone places an order on your website? Use this recipe to store all sales to a single spreadsheet. No more digging through files at tax season. Just pull up a single spreadsheet and you’re good to go. Returns are a different story, of course.
- Recipe 3: Auto-Share Blog Posts to Social Media
- If you are taking the time to write valuable content for your audience, you should be sharing it through your social channels for maximum return. But instead of opening up Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn after the fact, why not use recipes like this one to streamline the process. Hit publish, and let IFTTT take care of the rest for you.
On the surface, it looks like there are only 4,556 recipes to create, but each channel has a variety of settings you can configure, making the options almost limitless. With this kind of power at your finger tips, there’s no reason you couldn’t automate at least one aspect of your business. Spend a little time thinking through your current processes, take a look through IFTTT’s existing cookbook or create a recipe of your own, and make it happen.
What one thing would make the biggest impact on your business? Let me know in the comments section below, and I’ll help one business owner set up their first recipe.