There are so many blogging, social media and location-based services around that we end up logging into and managing several accounts at any given day, and for both work and personal use. While this ensures constant communication, it can also be a real pain doing individual updates for each account.
There are startups and services that have recognized this problem and allow users to cascade a single update on any social networking platform to other linked accounts. This makes going online less of a time suck, and helps the tracking and archiving of online activity. Some of the one-update-for-all-accounts services that immediately come to mind are Ping.fm (which was bought by Seesmic), TweetDeck (acquired by Twitter), FriendFeed, SocialOomph, HootSuite, and Digsby. But users will inevitably encounter another problem when comparing these services: they don't really cover all available social media services --- there always seems to be one or two missing from the list. Ping.fm has the biggest selection out of all the aforementioned services, but it doesn't have support for self-hosted WordPress blogs (which this author needed).
What is IFTTT?
A quick Google search led to a Quora thread, and then to the newest contender in the social media automation tool wars: If This, Then That (more popularly referred to as IFTTT). Made by Linden Tibbets and Jesse Tane a little over a year ago (birthday: December 14, 2010), IFTTT has already garnered a lot of attention and built a strong community. Linden explains how IFTTT came about in this blog entry.
How it works
IFTTT regularly uses five terms to explain how it works: Channels, Tasks, Triggers, Actions, and Recipes. Users can easily guess how to go about things based on IFTTT's expanded name. Right now, IFTTT currently has an impressive 41 supported Channels (a.k.a. social media, blogging, cloud storage, photo storage, RSS/Atom feeds and communication services). Based on those that are available, users could set up Tasks that contain Triggers ("this") and Actions ("that"). The logic behind it is that a specific Trigger would lead to a specific Action. For example, a Facebook status update or a new link posted to your Timeline (Trigger) would result in a new tweet (Action). Here's another possible task: whenever you post a new photo on Instagram (Trigger), that same photo would be uploaded to your Dropbox account (Action). Forty-one channels will produce a huge number of possible Trigger-Action combinations; this is addressed by user-contributed Recipes. These Recipes will give other users ideas on what Tasks to make.
We've had around three weeks to create various Tasks and play around with the service, which gives us a good list of the pros and cons. Let's get right down to it, shall we?
As mentioned above, IFTTT allows users to make Tasks based on 41 Channels. There are those that Filipinos use daily or regularly, like Facebook (both Pages and personal Timelines), Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn and Foursquare. But IFTTT also has support for other popular services such as Dropbox, Evernote, Flickr, RSS/Atom feeds, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Instagram, IFTTT (of course), free and self-hosted WordPress blogs, Vimeo and YouTube!
Another great thing about IFTTT is that it has a painless setup process. It asks for access to your chosen Channels once, and only once. Authorized Channels could then be used for other Tasks without any additional prompts.
IFTTT also acts fast. You won't have to wait long until a Task is completed; the longest we've ever had to wait is 15 minutes, tops. And for users who obsess about stats and little details, the service also provides a running count of the number of times each Task has been Triggered, the number of possible Task combinations, and a thorough Account History.
At one point, we thought we were done making Tasks. A quick look at the Recipes section proved otherwise! This leads to another advantage: IFTTT allows users to give others great ideas on how to maximize all their accounts, which definitely helps with community building. So far, we've used just one Recipe. We sometimes have trouble remembering what we did in previous days and where we were at certain hours (read: ulyanin!); a Recipe telling us how to cascade Foursquare updates to our Google Calendar was tremendously helpful.
Customer service is a very important aspect of any business, and the people behind IFTTT scores a lot of pogi points in that department. They explain how the service works in a simple manner, and they quickly respond to consumer inquiries and feedback through Facebook, Twitter, Quora, the IFTTT blog, and e-mail.
Oh, and here's the best part: it's 100% free. We so love that F-word.
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