Gini Dietrich

If This, Then That (IFTTT) Lets You Automate the Internet

By: Gini Dietrich | September 27, 2012 | 

Alright. We’re going to let our nerds flag fly today.

Yesterday, when I wrote about IFTTT and how Twitter is locking them out of their API, lots of you said, “What the heck is this tool?”

I was super excited to hear this because I thought I was behind the eight ball on it and couldn’t talk about it.

But you did not disappoint and now I get to show you this waaaaaaay cool tool!

What is IFTTT?

IFTTT stands for “if this, then that.” It allows you to create, what they call, recipes to “put the Internet to work for you.”

If you use different social networks, RSS readers, writing tools, or the cloud, IFTTT allows you to automate some of the things that make you more efficient.

For instance, I live in the Windy City. It’s pretty important I know how hard the wind is blowing before I go out for a bike ride. If it’s more than 30 miles an hour, I know I’m going to either get knocked off my bike (which will hurt) or I will be riding into a headwind and it will be like climbing up to the top of Pike’s Peak.

So I have a recipe that texts me when the wind is blowing more than 20 mph and it also tells me from which direction. This morning, I received a text that said, “The wind blows! 24 mph from the Northeast!”

Barrett Rossie commented yesterday that he has a recipe set up to alert him when someone new follows him on Twitter, but not just that…it also puts them in a list so he can check them out.

Create Recipes

There are endless recipes you can create and you don’t have to be a social media geek to use it. For instance, Mr. D (who is a technology Luddite and the bane of my existence) has a recipe to tell him the ratings of the weekend’s released movies.

Other recipes you can create:

  • When Netflix releases its new movies and shows each week, you can have it email you, text you, or save to the cloud
  • When a celebrity posts a new picture on Instagram, you can be alerted immediately
  • If you favorite a tweet or a blog post or article, it can be pushed to Evernote, Dropbox, or Pocket (formerly known as Read it Later)
  • Every time you change or add photos to Facebook, it will automatically save to a Dropbox folder for you so you have an archive of them
  • Same thing with your Instagram photos
  • If you want to know if it’s going to rain or snow, have a text sent to you
  • If you like a particular magazine (Wired, for instance), you can have the photos from their Instagram feed sent directly to you
  • When Spotify releases new albums, you can have it email you
  • Using WeMo, you can email to let it know when it should turn on or off lights at home

Get it Today!

As you can see, this isn’t just for the super, uber nerds like me (or, as Howie Goldfarb calls me, a “closet techie”).

Right now it has nine active channels with nearly 300 different recipe combinations. As the site grows, it has the opportunity to add another 46 channels, opening the recipes to thousands of cool things you can do.

But I must warn you: Block out at least 30 minutes to get on there. You’ll be sucked in. Quickly.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • knealemann

    @ginidietrich @IFTTT – All signed up. Now to dig around.

    • ginidietrich

      @knealemann I think you’ll really like it!

      • knealemann

        @ginidietrich – It’s that same feeling when we joined the multitude of other spaces – now what, what’s next…

        • ginidietrich

          @knealemann And you survived all those!

  • One of mine: I get emails whenever there’s a free MP3 album available on Amazon. 

    •  @jasonkonopinski Awesome! I do it with books, too.

      •  @ginidietrich Also? I love that you’ve called Mr. D a Luddite. 🙂 

        •  @jasonkonopinski He totally is! He still has that stupid phone. Anytime we need to look something up, we use my phone because his takes fooooooorever.

        •  @ginidietrich Heh. I still have an iPhone 3G kicking around that I use now to store notes for geocaching. </nerd>

        •  @jasonkonopinski But is it your main form of communication?

        •  @ginidietrich Nope – except when, you know, you drop your HTC and shatter the screen. Not that I’ve done that. Nope. Nope. Nope. 

      • TaraGeissinger

         @ginidietrich  @jasonkonopinski Great ideas! I am going to have so much fun with this!

  • redcrew

    @ginidietrich One of my favorite apps. Just wish @Twitter hadn’t cut off @ifttt’s ability to backup tweets.

    • ginidietrich

      @redcrew I know. I’m super mad at Twitter because of that.

  • Helpdesk_info

    @msjconnolly are you just learning about IFTTT? I tested it..not for social..but good for other things

    • msjconnolly

      @Helpdesk_info: Yes. Just saw an article about it this AM.

  • belllindsay

    This does sound very cool. Though I’m not sure I could *ever* be that organized. 

    •  @belllindsay It’s not really about organization. That’s what I thought at first, too. But then I got in there and realized you don’t have to be organized at all. You can totally let it do things for you that you’d have to get yourself organized to do manually. I mean, come on. If you can email your WeMo and tell it to turn off a light when you’re not at home, don’t you think that’s pretty cool?

  • I had IFTTT bookmarked after yesterday. Now, I’m sold. I’m all for automating everything that doesn’t require a human touch!

    •  @Adam | Customer Experience I bet walmart will be using this so they don’t need store employees anymore.

      •  @HowieG I set my first IFTTT rule: “If Howie replies to my comments, respond with something snarky.” But it didn’t work. I had such high hopes too.

        •  @Adam | Customer Experience  I think you have to tell it the snarky thing to say. OH! I KNOW! Have it send him a video of something funny. @HowieG 

  • magriebler

    Well, isn’t this just like Christmas: a new toy to play with! (Well, new to me.) Can’t wait to set it up. Thanks for the tip!

    • TaraGeissinger

       @magriebler I was thinking the same thing! 🙂 Yay! I apparently live under a large rock because this is all new to me. Can’t wait to dig in, but must get work done first.

      • yvettepistorio

         @TaraGeissinger  @magriebler I’ve also been living under a large rock and @ginidietrich even mentioned it to me! But must get work done so saving it for the weekend!

        •  @yvettepistorio  @TaraGeissinger  @magriebler  @ginidietrich Hey Yvette anytime you need to take off an hour or two from work to try out new tech stuff yet still be paid for that time…just ask. I have the approval stamp here in my office.

        • magriebler

           @yvettepistorio  @TaraGeissinger  @ginidietrich This rock we’re all living under is just HUGE. It also explains why I never get a tan.

        •  @yvettepistorio  Anyone else notice my team commenting they have work to do before they play? I’m so proud! (don’t say they’re brown nosing!)

    •  @magriebler It’s Christmas in September! I almost feel like I did when I discovered Pinterest.

  • GrizzardComm

    Oh, how I love @Ifttt. RT @ginidietrich Don’t know IFTTT? It’s not just for the social media nerds. Check it out!

    • ginidietrich

      @GrizzardComm You’re a nerd like me.

      • GrizzardComm

        @ginidietrich It’s so very true.

  • FeliciaCago

    @ginidietrich Too many ppl use it just for auto-DMs. Ugh.

    • ginidietrich

      @FeliciaCago I know! That’s why I refused to put the auto DM recipe suggestion in my blog post

  • Yes, thank you for finally explaining this! I kid you not, I had seen IFTTT mentioned a few times in conjunction with recipes and I was almost convinced it had to do with cooking! I knew I’d get smarter from reading this blog! (ps – I removed two instances of “that” in this comment #winning)

    •  @SociallyGenius Opus and friends in Bloom County used to say PHLBBBT! I thought it was something like that.

      • @HowieG I thought you were talking about a place, but upon further research I see that it’s a comic… that ended when I was 7. I take it that PHBBBT is my modern day pfft, right? Ironically, that was my first thought about IFTTT – like what are they trying to sound out, sheesh

    • magriebler

       @SociallyGenius And I thought it was just another piece of Internet slang that I’d failed to master. LOL! 😉

    •  @SociallyGenius OMG! You ARE learning! I’m so proud!

  • Old_Jrice

    @ginidietrich Kinda interesting 2 know!

    • ginidietrich

      @Old_Jrice I love it!

  • A Youtube video of you riding in 30mph winds with one of those tall orange safety flags on the back of your bike would go viral for sure. I just set up a recipe to alert me for your video!

  • This looks amazing. Sounds like cost could be involved though? Or is it free? If someone tells me the F word is involved, I nay have to figure it out ….

  • I’ve known about IFTTT for a while now but have never used it. What I didn’t know is that you could use it for so many things. You may have just pushed me over the edge to using it. 🙂

  • It didn’t occur to me to create a powder alert for when it snows. I wonder if I can have it automatically check my calendar and move appointments that morning! Now THAT would be genius. 

  • Love IFTTT. Some of my favs: Posting my new Storifys or WordPress blog posts to Buffer, creating a Twitter list of hashtag participants, adding photos to Flickr if uploaded on Facebook page.

    •  @polleydan I love the last one you mention – I use it that way, too!

  • Love me some IFTTT.. I’ve created a few different recipes that have been SUPER helpful in keeping me on top of things. It’s grown so much over the past year or so with the things that you can do with it and the possibility of recipes is seemingly endless. Now if I could only get it to work on my house.. 

    •  @KristenDaukas Right? Like do the laundry or wash the dishes!

  • trontastic

    Damn you for giving me another toy to play with. There goes my day.

  • neicolec

    IFTTT? Hey, what did you call me, @ginidietrich?!

    • ginidietrich

      @neicolec Pbltttt!

      • neicolec

        @ginidietrich Dang, Gini! Quit swearing at me.

  • Sigh. I have nothing to add.

  • Very geeky indeed, but in a cool way, huh? 

  • MSchechter

    You wont hit rock bottom until you start using Brett Terpstra’s Slogger to archive all everything into Day One. That’s when you KNOW you’ve gone off the techie deep end 🙂

  • kateupdates

    I’m going to be experimenting with this tonight. I started researching it after reading your post about Twitter limiting developers. Must play with this and make it work for me. Thanks for the 411, Gini!

    •  @kateupdates It’s freaking awesome, Kate! You’ll love it! BTW…I saw a hipster riding their bike and it made me think of you. 🙂

  • wagnerwrites

    @Incandescere Always glad to help. 🙂

  • JonFMoss

    @neicolec @ginidietrich @Soulati except twitter

  • Shaunsational

    You wouldn’t happen to know the recipe for the new movies works would you? 😉

    • Shaunsational

      i mean… know how it works, which trigger they used

      •  @Shaunsational Yes, hang on! 
        Well, there are lots of options. Do you want Amazon? Netflix? Rotton Tomatoes?
        This will help:

  • Oooh, oooh…. Not when someone follows me, that NEVER happens! It’s when someone MENTIONS me, which they do constantly, just to mock me! 
    Thanks for this info @ginidietrich . I knew this thing was addictive after a minute. So (sorry I haven’t read through all the comments…) does anyone know if IFTTT is really at risk from Twitter policy, or is it safe for now? 

    •  @barrettrossie This is what they emailed last night:
      We wanted to give you a heads-up that all Twitter Triggers, along with the Personal and Shared Recipes using them, have now been removed. Recipes using Twitter Actions, including those that post new tweets via IFTTT, will continue to work just fine.  We look forward to building new features for the Twitter Channel. 

    •  @ginidietrich <sigh> That’s too bad. 

    •  Of course, that email went to my junk box. 

  • I logged in the other day after your post and had to walk away. I LOVE formulas. This could be endlessly fascinating.  Also- Mr. D is the bane of your existence? Poor Mr. D! 

    •  @RebeccaTodd Poor Mr. D?! What about me?? He still has a first generation iPhone!

      •  @ginidietrich Hah so did I until very recently, then everything stopped working at once. 

  • mikejulietbravo

    @jeffreypjacobs Except from Twitter!

  • Favorite web shortcut  thingee. 🙂 

  • ryananderson

    @geoffliving Except the Twitter part of the Internet… which, sadly, is all I used it for.

  • aggyhall

    MT @WomenWhoTech IFTTT Lets You Automate the Internet >> how frustrating Twitter is locking them out of API

  • Ejimak

    @MartinaMcGowan @ginidietrich Hi Martina. Heard IFTTT had lost its twitter channel 🙁 Is it still under? Hope you’re good. 🙂

    • MartinaMcGowan

      @Ejimak @ginidietrich I think it was twitters choice to discontinue their participqation in the recipes at IFTTT.

  • AndrewWarner

    @tonykarrer I love that service. I also use @zapier for business stuff

    • tonykarrer

      @andrewwarner I’ve not tried zapier. Looks cool, thanks for the pointer.

  • TimGeoghegan

    @mcleod sometimes to the point of being annoying! It’s a great tool but recipes can get out of hand.

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