What IFTTT Teaches Us About Automation


I like IFTTT; the lesson (and value) clearly offered by the site is the need to simplify our online lives.

As you may already know, IFTTT’s basic algorithmic building blocks allows people to build an easier social network life through automation in the form of “recipes”.

There are too many social network and tool options to be present everywhere.

The continuing fracture of social networks creates the need for bandaid solutions like IFTTT. Perhaps automated dashboards like Hootsuite, Radian6 and others offer the right solution.

But sooner or later the peanut butter won’t spread any further. Companies and solopreneurs alike will find that they have to make choices.

Automation tools can help delay those choices and allow us to maintain more outposts, but the capacity issue is still a problem that needs resolution.

With the evolution and creation of more input devices and additional wireless access becoming available, I only see more media choices occurring, not less. It’s not like the networks and tools are making it easier to work together, either. Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter are clearly in an entrenched battle.

Can automation empower us to be everywhere simultaneously? And if it can’t, does that mean we have to make the peanut butter go even further?

Every business person needs to prioritize their social choices and invest accordingly. It comes down to really understanding the social business drivers that matter to your strategy.It always makes sense to focus and double down on the areas that produce

I blogged last year about making a conscious choice to abandon Facebook as a marketing outpost in favor of Twitter, Triberr, LinkedIn and Google+. The decision was implemented over the fall prior to the post. My motive was in the spirit of focusing on where I thought this blog really needed to be marketed.

The following picture shows you what happened to my traffic int he months prior and after.


The point is make smart choices. What do you think about the continuing problem of too many channels?



  • I totally agree Geoff. More and more, you can’t really be on every single social network, so you have to choose. Test – try – choose – test and try some more, and focus on doing more and more – with less and less.

  • Interesting take. I too have often wondered if automation can empower us to be everywhere simultaneously. Right now, I’d say the answer is no. And dear God, Facebook is a DEAD zone!

  • I’ve been using IFTTT for some time and enjoy it. We’ve discussed this before here on the site, but as much as I think automation for the sake of broadcasting on large scales, I like how IFTTT allows me to bring together multiple tools into a single channel.

    The idea being, if someone prefers to spend their time on Facebook, they get it all on Facebook, just as someone who prefers to spend their time on Twitter gets it all. Google Plus has some work-arounds in place, but I’m still not happy with the final result, so I share there manually.

    Like you said, you just gotta be smart about it. What is the experience you’re trying to deliver?

    • It’s an interesting notion to use IFTTT to funnel all to Facebook or Twitter. I may need to rethink my strategy here. Hmmm. ;) Thanks for the great comment.

      • No worries, mate. It gets even better!

        Got a Buffer account, too? You can create a recipe which shares articles you star/favorite/save in your reader to your Buffer account, which then time-releases them over the course of the day to your Twitter channel.

        And if you’ve got Twitter/FB (or your social handlers) setup to email/notify you on replies, you never leave anyone hanging when they comment on your latest blog post, Tumblr picture, or that article you just shared.

        IFTTT allows you to deliver more value to your social streams. I’ve got no problem with that kind of automation, so long as you’re available to engage with those who wish to discuss things further.

  • The cluttered landscape of how we engage and with what tools when is coming to a head. Automation is the ANTI–XX; yet, without it, we’re unable.

    Automation does not beget authenticity. Facebook has made an echelon of social marketers really wealthy; yet, how can any business not in the know sustain that kind of learning when every week there’s something new to understand?

    I think what we do is preparing to come full circle; the wheat from the chaff; the under achievers next to the over achievers/leaders; and the businesses that realize they’ve entirely missed the boat.

    With all the balls in the air, something has to give. All over the discussion has resumed about social media ownership. Why? Didn’t we do that already? If no one owns social media or the customer owns it or PR owns it, well then no one is planning the party let alone going to it.

    The confusion we create in this sector only damages those businesses not on board or only engaging at half speed. Now I see folks talking about cheap PR and how to do cheap social media.

    Really? We position ourselves as experts (oops, can’t use that word) businesses need, then say anyone can do this and oh, BTW, it’s gonna be really cheap to make it so.

    Hell, I’m confused; aren’t you?

    • I don’t know, Jayme. I think automation can be good if it’s used well. It’s like an electric guitar can make noise or music, depending on who is playing it.

      As to the ownership thing, having to unwrap the ownership mess inside of companies several times, I think when you see a department command and control a brand’s social media — usually the PR department — it creates massive issues. The job or ownership should be the point person for community management, not control, because everyone uses social, like it or not, from advertising through to HR.

      As to on the cheap, some companies have less resources. It only seems natural that this would be a path. Nonprofits are in worse shape.

      So, I guess you can see things one way, or… you can see the other side of the coin. Just my $.02.

  • I’m dizzy. That.is.all. :) Cheers! Kaarina

  • A lot of wisdom in this post Geoff. Many thanks.

    I was just thinking about this yesterday reading @ginidietrich’s post on yet more social media tools. It almost made my head explode.

  • This is so interesting, I think without some form of automation, it would impossible to track customer conversations or keep a global online presence. You have to sleep sometime. But, you also have to make good choices about it informed and driven by data.

  • In the machine world we have our automation. In the biological world we have our autonomic nervous system. Geoff, we can make smarter choices about automation when we understand at the same time what we can do about autonomic.

    The two go hand in hand as far as I am concerned, and when we smarten our choices with one, it leads to a leveraging of machinery, rather than a loading of our biology.

    I think we need to do more than simplify online life, the payoff for thinking hard about the systems we are and the systems we are connected to has a handsome payoff – which I refer to as discovering our own intelligence.

    Link: Balancing the Autonomic Nervous System

    Kind Regards

    • This is deep, and I don’t want to not comment, but I don’t know what to say because I’ve never considered this topic before (autonomic). So let me just say thank you, and go chew on it.

  • I still haven’t taken the time to look into IFTTT, and I thought it was recently restricted by changes to Twitter in terms of certain recipes?

    I definitely appreciate HootSuite (sometimes used in conjunction with BundlePost), Buffer and Triberr for at least scheduling content over a broader timeframe throughout the day, so I do not inundate my tribe with a lot of “noise” in a short period.

    Of course, I’ll stick to our own Pulse Analytics dashboard vs that “R-word”!

    Would you bring up IFTTT as one of the talking points on that general “marketing automation” Hecklers’ Hangout you mentioned? We have a slot ready for you on 4/4, 4/11, or 4/18 if you want it, Geoff!

    • Sure, let’s do 4/4. Looking forward to it.

      I do think IFTTT got restricted by Twitter, oh well. Sigh. I like it so. Smart on the content sharing front, my man. I spaced out triberr shares to 35 minutes for that very reason.

      • Thanks, Geoff – I got you booked for April 4th. Looking forward to what I expect to be a lively discussion on marketing/social media automation

  • The thing I love about IFTTT is it’s not just social media. When I do my workshops with business owners, I show them this tool as one of the very first things because it demonstrates the usefulness of the web. It’s a very cool tool…and it’s really easy to get wrapped up in creating recipes (hello, wind blowing more than 25 mph means I get a text).

    Am I missing the picture you mention in the second to last paragraph?

    • I mistakenly edited this and shifted the publish date ahead a few weeks, then republished it on the current date. When I did it, I lost all the social shares and images. Images are re-added. Thanks for noting that. Would have wiffed otherwise!

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