A new class of web-based services has joined the ranks of social media marketing automation tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Buffer.
These services allow users to create chains of simple conditional statements, called “recipes,” that trigger actions based on changes to other web services.
Here are three of the more popular web services, along with an explanation of how each works.
IFTTT (If This, Then That)
IFTTT, an acronym for “If This, Then That,” currently has 183 applications, referred to as channels, from which users can choose to create recipes.
IFTTT has two recipe categories: “Do” and “If.”
“Do” recipes let you perform tasks literally with the push of a button, using your mobile device. For example, you can create a recipe that, with a single click, automatically uploads photos from your phone to Facebook.
IFTTT “Do” recipe.
Do recipes only allow you to carry out a single task and limits use to mobile devices, rather than a desktop or laptop computer.
“If” recipes connect applications across a range of platforms. When you take an action on one, it replicates the process on another.
As an example, you can create a recipe that automatically sends Instagram images to your Facebook page. Another recipe takes content you publish on LinkedIn and posts it to Twitter.
“If this, then that” recipe connecting Instagram to Facebook.
In addition to connecting social networks, you can create recipes that include business productivity tools, such as Dropbox, MailChimp, Freshbooks, and Basecamp. (The same applies to the other sites in this list.)
The downside to using IFTTT is that you may find yourself accidentally creating recipes that overlap each another, necessitating updates and revisions.
IFTTT is free to use.
Workato is similar to IFTTT in that it lets you set up recipes that run automatically, based on specific instructions.
The service differs from IFTTT in that it allows you to include up to three applications in one recipe. For instance, in the recipe below, I tell Workato to update Facebook and Evernote each time I upload an image to Instagram.
Workato recipe connecting Facebook and Evernote.
You can also choose filters that give you more control over your posts. Using the example above, whenever I post a picture to Instagram, I can select who sees it within Facebook. I can also create a customized message for Facebook, using input fields provided in the recipe.
Custom filters give users more control over posts.
Workato integrates with more than 50 applications. Facebook Pages and Google Plus are not currently offered, however.
By default, Workato recipes are available to the public, which means anyone can use them, and add their own details. This type of sharing can help you discover useful recipes you may not have otherwise considered. You also have the option of creating private recipes, which are available only to you and those whom you designate.
Workato offers free and premium pricing. You are required to purchase a premium package only if you plan to use private recipes.
Zapier, which refers to its recipes as “Zaps,” lets you get much more granular with your tasks than either IFTTT or Workato.
If, for instance, you want to update Facebook whenever an event takes place on Instagram, you would take the following steps.
Choose your “Trigger” and “Action” apps.
Choose trigger and action apps.
Select a trigger. Specify a condition that initiates the action, such as gaining a new Instagram follower.
Select a trigger condition.
Determine what follows the action. Since I chose Facebook as the action app, I was presented with three options: post video to timeline, post to timeline, or post photo to timeline.
Choose what follows the action.
Set up custom filters. You can also set up custom filters for the action app so that updates occur just under certain conditions. Here, I instruct Zapier to trigger the action only if the new follower has a profile picture.
Set up custom filters.
Write a personal message. Zapier will ask you to write a personal message for the recipe. The program also lets you add other Instagram data to the Facebook post, such as the followers name, username, or profile picture.
Test the recipe. Zapier permits you to test recipes before making them public.
Zapier currently offers more than 500 applications, some of which require a premium account. Free plans give you access to five Zaps but limit you to 100 tasks per month. Anything above that necessitates a premium account. Prices increase the more apps and tasks you use.
If you are at a loss as to what applications to use, Zapier will make suggestions based upon those you use most.