For example, you may wish to update your agency's Facebook and Twitter profile pictures when your logo changes, automatically post your blog posts to LinkedIn and Facebook, be sent an email whenever someone tweets at you or receive an alert whenever your Minister is mentioned in a breaking news story.
This is where it is useful to get familiar with services like IFTTT and Yahoo Pipes.
IFTTT, or "IF This Then That" is a simple logic engine that allow you to string together a trigger and an action to create a 'recipe' using the format IF [trigger] then [action].
For example, below is a recipe used to automatically tweet new posts on this blog:
|A recipe in IFTTT|
This sounds very simple, but it can be a very powerful labour saving tool. Each trigger and action can be from different online services, or even physical devices.
|A recipe in IFTTT (click to enlarge)|
For example, at right is the full page for a recipe that archives your Tweets to a text file in your Dropbox.
Besides connecting the trigger (a new tweet from you) with the action (posting your tweet in Dropbox), you can choose whether to include retweets and @replies.
You can set the file name where your tweets will be stored and the file path in Dropbox, plus you can set the content that is saved and how it will be formated.
In this case the recipe is set to keep the text of the tweet (the 'Text' in a blue box), followed on a new line by the date it was tweeted ('CreatedAt') and then, on another new line, a permanent link to the tweet ('LinkToTweet'), followed by a line break to separate it from following tweets.
You can add additional 'ingredients' such as Tweet name and User Name - essentially whatever information that Twitter shares for each tweet.
Rather than having to invent and test your own recipes, IFTTT allows people to share their recipes with others, meaning you can often find a useful recipe, rather than having to create one from scratch.
In fact I didn't create either of the recipes I've illustrated, they were already listed.
There's currently over 36,000 recipes to choose from, for the 47 services supported - from calendars, to RSS feeds, to email, to social networks, to blogs and video services, from SMS to physical devices.
|All the online services that can be 'triggers' for IFTTT|
For example, if I wanted to update my profile image in Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and LinkedIn, I can set up a series of recipes such as,
- If [My Facebook profile picture updates] Then [Update my Twitter profile picture to match]
- If [My Twitter profile picture updates] Then [Update my Blogger profile picture to match]
- If [My Blogger profile picture updates] Then [Update my LinkedIn profile picture to match]
- If [My LinkedIn profile picture updates] Then [Update my Facebook profile picture to match]
|Building a Yahoo Pipe (click to enlarge)|
|An IFTTT recipe built from the Yahoo Pipe above|
(click to enlarge)
- Finding mentions of your Department on Twitter or Facebok
- Tracking mentions of your program in the media releases of other agencies
- Archiving all your Tweets and Facebook statuses
- Receiving an SMS alert when the weather forecast is for rain (so you take your umbrella)
- Posting your Facebook updates, Blog posts and media releases automatically on Twitter spread throughout the day (using Buffer)