So you’ve totally got this really awesome, super-new idea that no one has ever had before: sweet. And now you want to share it with everyone on all of your sites and networks: totally. Tweet it. Facebook it. Press it into a word. Drop it into a box. Create a Craiglist post out of it to see if anyone else around you is into that, and if they’d be willing to join you. Great job! You’ve just spent an hour and a half spreading the cat picture you took. You could have created a whole cat album in that time. You could have had time to teach your cat to take its own pictures. The point is, we spend a lot of time posting and updating multiple web services with identical content, just so our nerdcore friend on Google+ who refuse to reactivate his Facebook account can see that we beat his high score in Call of Duty. It’s superfluous. It’s wasteful. It needs to stop. That’s what ifttt is for. Ifttt (pronounced like “lift” without an “l”) stands for “if this then that”, a classic illustrative phrase in logic discussions, and is designed to simplify your digital life and allow for easy cross-posting of content to lots of different sites. I think this is going to be a big one.
My experience with ifttt started not long after Instagram came to Android. While the iOS and Android iterations for the popular photo sharing app are very similar, the Android version lacks some of the sharing options you’ll find in iOS: namely, Flickr. I was searching everywhere for a reliable method of auto-posting from my Instagram account to my WordPress.com blog. Since Instagram had only been on Android for about a week, most of the google results just told me to auto-post to Flickr, which could post to free WordPress blogs. That wasn’t an option for me. Other forum thread offered advice about posting to WordPress via email from a smartphone. That’s great and all,, but it still isn’t auto-posting. Then I found the answer (and I wish I could remember where I found that answer because I would like to thank that person and give them credit). If you’re problem is getting your posts from one service to the other, then ifttt is your answer. See what I did there?
ifttt couldn’t be simpler. The first time you visit the site, you’ll be prompted to sign up (obviously) and link the accounts you hope to use. Anyone who uses a social network should be familiar with this by now. For some sites like WordPress and Tumblr, you’ll have to provide a url, username, and password for the service to connect to ifttt. Other sites, like twitter, just require you to grant permissions from a twitter pop-out window. It’s super easy and you can link all of your necessary accounts while creating your tasks.
This is what you’ll see every time you want to create a new auto-post task. Click on ‘this” and a drop-down will give you all of the “channel” options for your trigger. The trigger is what sets of the specified action, or task. For example, my trigger is Instagram, and whenever a new image is added to my account there, it will be auto-posted to WordPress and Tumblr including its title, description, and any tags I preset. There are more trigger options than the ones you see above, I just snapped a pic of a few so you can get the idea. Next, you’ll specify your action, or what you want to happen after ifttt detects an update on your specified trigger site. For each different trigger and action, you can customize steps based on the selected web service’s functionality. In other words, ifttt knows how the blog sites work, they know how the social networks work, and they include options to allow for your content to make it to your sites in exactly the format you want.
The other major feature of ifttt is designed around the site’s built-in social component. If you come up with a good task that works for you, you can share it as a general recipe to other ifttt users. You caan also browse through helpful recipes created by other users. A recipe is like a pre-built task, where all you have to do is plug in the information to your associated accounts, and the service is setup without you doing any of the (admittedly very easy) dirty work. In the picture above, you can see some of the more popular recipes. Some of these looks great: automatically follow someone back on twitter, save all of your instagram photos to your dropbox, free mp3 notifcations, etc. if any of these strike your fancy, just sign up for an ifttt account and get chugging.
Stop wasting so much time copy and pasting your life. If you’ve created an awesome post somewhere, don’t waste precious creative time posting and reposting and linking to it from different sites. Sign up for ifttt and get your digital life in order. Use the time you save to teach your cat new tricks. Or better yet, teach your cat how to program new ifttt tasks for you: it’s (almost) that easy!