Wouldn’t it be nice to have an assistant helping you with routine online stuff, like posting on social media the way you want, helping build your Twitter lists, informing you about new PR opportunities and doing other such handy things?
While web apps are rarely referred to as “assistants”, there are two tools I use actively and treat as virtual (literally) assistants – they are IFTTT and Zapier. IFTTT (stands for If This Then That) is a free app which I recommend you to start with.
How IFTTT works: you connect your social media accounts (and not only those, there are also over 360 supported services), set up “Applets” (used to be called “Recipes”) depending on your needs, and then the app starts looking for certain triggers – once they occur, the actions you specified happen. Check out the illustration below for a more visual explanation.
An important note to keep in mind: in the last 1-2 years, IFTTT has been mainly positioning itself as a “lifestyle” app, while Zapier is sort of “IFTTT for business.” This is why you will see so many channels for smart home devices and wearable gadgets inside IFTTT. The possibilities that these connections open up are pretty cool, but changing the warmth of your light at home when it begins to rain or adjusting home temperature when you leave work office are outside of this article’s theme.
Today, we are going to squeeze the marketing potential out of IFTTT. I will explain some of my favorite Applets, and leave you to discover other options on your own. When I signed up to IFTTT for the first time, I was lost for several hours, so beware.
The Basics section will cover the “must use” Applets, while the Advanced part will go into one more advanced technique.
Marketing Your Music: Set up IFTTT
- Create an account at IFTTT.com.
- Go to the Services tab and look around to see what’s available, and feel free to “activate” some of the accounts (e.g. Twitter, YouTube, Instagram). You don’t have to do the latter now, however, as it will be possible to connect the required channels while creating or activating Applets.
- Install the mobile app! There, you can do exactly the same things as in the web app, plus more (like accessing location or notification features on Android, photos and reminders on iOS).
Post Instagram Photos as Native Twitter Photos
This is the number one Applet I recommend every artist or band to set up. If you haven’t been an active Instagrammer, or haven’t tried it at all, at very least consider using this platform more. Instagram (later referred to as IG) is a powerful social media platform where you can build a solid following. However, even if you don’t want to be active on IG as a social network at this time, it can still be handy as a tool for creating beautiful visual content for your other social media profiles.
You can connect your Facebook Page (do that instead of connecting your personal profile), Twitter, Tumblr and some other platforms to your IG account, which allows you to cross-post your photos. When you share to Twitter, however, the photos aren’t viewable inside the Twitter stream – they’re only shared as links. It makes your photos appear a lot less cooler and effective on Twitter. The solution:
To activate it, simply click the “Turn on” button – no further setup needed. Your IG captions will be used as the tweets, and the photos will be posted in-stream.
Note: While you will find many more cross-posting recipes on IFTTT, I can’t really recommend using most of them. When you publish a video on YouTube, for example, you obviously want to publish it a) at a specific time, b) with a custom description for each social network. So do it manually. The only exception in that example may be posting your new public YouTube videos to Tumblr. Oh and by the way, never ever have your Facebook Page automatically posting to Twitter, and vice versa.
Keep Track of Trendy GIFs
My goal in this article is to show you the various different things you can do with IFTTT. It includes some fun possibilities, such as this one:
If you run a Tumblr blog or just have a Twitter account, why not to post one of the top trending GIFs on these accounts a few times a week, with a relevant personal comment? It doesn’t matter if your followers have seen the GIFs you pick (most have not) – it’s all about the context you give to these images.
Track PR Opportunities
Let me show you a slightly more advanced example of using IFTTT before you start playing with the tool on your own.
Below are the steps to track relevant press inquiries from HARO (Help a Reporter Out), a popular website which journalists and bloggers use to find sources for their stories. Brands, specialists and artists can monitor opportunities and apply for the relevant ones.
Here’s an example of a feature in which I placed a band (Blue Daven’s Code) via HARO. Monitoring the daily HARO newsletters manually is pretty annoying, as you don’t see relevant requests all the time, and the lists are big. Instead of searching for specific keywords inside the emails, I activated an IFTTT Applet that is monitoring new HARO emails for keywords for me. Here’s how you can set it up.
Create a free HARO account with a Gmail email address, and sign up for their daily newsletter (it is important that it will be sent to a Gmail account).
Activate this Applet. In the “To address” field that you see, enter the email you want to receive notifications about relevant inquiries to. It can be any email address of yours, not necessarily Gmail.
Go to the My Applets section and select the newly created Applet. If your Gmail account hasn’t been connected yet, connect it both for “if” and “then”.
On your newly created Recipe page, scroll down to the “Search for” field and insert the following:
from:firstname.lastname@example.org musician OR DJ OR band OR artist
You’ve just used Gmail’s search operators. Make sure to change all or some of the keywords that above to get notifications for the words that relate to you and your project. And remember that the keywords don’t have to be about music only, think about all the fields where you consider yourself an expert. You can add more keyphrases by adding “OR keyword”. If you want to search for a specific phrase, put it in quotes, e.g. “rock band”.
Optionally, edit the “Body” field – you can leave it for later though, first receive at least one notification to see how it looks like.
And now, it’s definitely the time for you to explore IFTTT yourself. Have fun, and share your favourite Applets in the comments!
Andrew Apanov, the “Musician’s Web Keeper,” is the founder of Dotted Music, a music industry blog and digital marketing agency for music brands. He’s also the creator of a growth-training and community platform for artists called WeSpin. Andrew has been in the music business for over a decade, as editor-in-chief of Ultimate Guitar, live events promoter, drum & bass DJ, consultant, blogger, and speaker. Andrew also hosts the weekly WeSpin Recipes Podcast, interviewing guests from various fields of the music industry.