Social media sites and apps are huge platforms for advertising, the truest adage of the technological age surely being; “if its free to use, you’re not the customer, you’re the product”. The recent Facebook data scandals have only underlined how much social media can influence, or be seen to influence our decisions. It should be obvious then that a key part of modern marketing is to leverage your business’s social media presence to create new leads and conversions. If you have the budget, there are now a range of SaaS platforms for managing your social media accounts in one place, Hootsuite and Buffer being among the market leaders. But what if your a small business, with a limited marketing budget? Can you really compete with the market leaders and their powerful software advantages?
IFTTT, the free platform for automation
IFTTT (pronounced like gift rather than an acronym) is a free tool for automation of a whole range of services including social media accounts, SaaS systems and physical devices. IFTTT stands for “If this, then that”, basically you take an action, based on a trigger. For example, a new post on your Facebook business page could trigger a corresponding tweet with the same information. IFTTT isn’t the only automation tool available, there are others, mainly subscription services, such as Zapier and the newer Microsoft Flow, and i’ll cover these in another post, looking beyond marketing. Focusing on social media marketing, IFTTT can integrate a range of social accounts, as well as complementary services to save time and better organise your social marketing strategy, let have a look at some examples.
Link your company blog or news to your social accounts
First lets take a look at how you can use IFTTT to propagate company news and updates to social media. For many companies, the first place to update with new information will be the company websites blog or news section. Many companies even rely on this channel alone to interact with their customers but this is a pretty bad idea, and relies on customers visiting your site regularly. A better system, is to propagate your news via your social media channels, putting information where your customers can see it, rather than expecting them to come to you. With IFTTT you can automatically post updates on your blog or news page to your social media account, giving them maximum exposure.
How you set up this link depends on how your website is built. The universal solution is to use an RSS feed. RSS feeds update with information posted on your site and can be configured to include only certain content, such as news. Most website building platforms have an easy way to set up an RSS feed and all you’ll need is the feed URL. Using the Applet to the right you can link your feed to twitter and Facebook Pages, and automatically post your website updates on these platforms. You can follow this process with your own custom Applet to link any other Social media accounts you use, such as LinkedIn or Instagram, to your RSS feed in the same way.
If you use WordPress for your website, the process is even easier. IFTTT has a dedicated connector for WordPress, so you just need to log in with your WordPress credentials and you can propagate your WordPress “Posts” to your social media accounts.
Don’t miss out on conversations
Automating your social media posts can save you a lot of time, but social media isn’t a one way street. The key to a good social media marketing strategy is customer interaction. IFTTT can help you to log and organise when your company is mentioned online, making it easier to co-ordinate your response and see what your customers think of your products or services. IFTTT can integrate with several different task management platforms, such as Trello, Slack and Asana. These platforms are like digital to-do lists, reminding you of outstanding tasks and making sure you complete them. Lets say you use Slack, you can set up an IFTTT Applet to create a new task in a to-do list whenever your company is @mentioned on Twitter, meaning you will never miss a chance to interact with your customers. You can do the same with Asana, Trello, or even just log them to a Google sheet. You can also use the records from these systems for data analysis to track your performance, and see how your company is perceived on social media.
Especially for scientific companies
I work for a company in the field of life science, and a great marketing tool for us is when our products are mentioned in a scientific publication. For any company selling into academia this can be a great marketing asset. There’s no direct way to check for publications with IFTTT, but you can create an indirect link via Gmail and Google scholar. In Google scholar you can set up an alert for new publications, have this sent to your gmail address and you can use the Gmail IFTTT integration to create a new task in your software of choice for further action.
These examples are just the tip of a very large iceberg of possibilities with IFTTT. Check out the IFTTT website to see the the full range of services you can link to and feel free to comment below with your own ideas.
You might remember I started this post with warning about free services. So, if IFTTT is free, what is the catch? IFTTT has had major investments in order to build its platform, most recently from the CRM giant Salesforce. The IFTTT platform, where you can develop integrations and Applets also has paid options, for companies to allow their services to be used with IFTTT, adding value to their own products. At the moment their is no talk of paid plans for users and hopefully it stays that way. IFTTT does allow businesses to analyse usage of their Applets, but this is all anonymised data, you can read more in their terms here.