Managing Social Media with IFTTT

Yesterday I attended the first *official* meeting of the Maryland Library Association’s Social Media User Group. The primary discussion focused around a panel of local library professionals who are active in managing library social media accounts. Throughout this discussion, several tools were mentioned for managing multiple social media accounts to create a cohesive presence across platforms. With many of the panelists singing the praises of “IFTTT” for managing content, and several attendees left wanting to know more, the site seems ripe for further discussion in the library world.

What is “IFTTT?”

If This Then That logo

“IFTTT” (pronounced like “gift” without the “g”) stands for “If This Then That.” It is a web-based service that allows you to create automatic connections between different internet applications. These applications, which IFTTT calls “channels,” currently include over 50 sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Delicious, as well as productivity applications like email and Google Drive. Once you’ve created your IFTTT account, you can activate any of the channels in which you have an account and would like to link to other applications.

After activating channels, you will be able to create “recipes” to automatically link content across accounts or to automate activities you perform frequently. Recipes consist of a “trigger” from one channel that leads to an “action” in another channel. Want to archive your Facebook posts as a journal in Evernote? Or automatically post a link of your most recent blog post to your Facebook timeline? Create a recipe!

Recipes in IFTTT

Create Recipe in IFTTT

Create a Recipe in IFTTT

IFTTT gives you the option to set up personal recipes or share your recipes with other users. This means there are already several shared recipes set up for IFTTT channels that you can use or view as examples.

IFTTT leads you through creating a new recipe in a few simple steps. Let’s say I want all of our new LibTechTalk posts to automatically appear as links on my Facebook page. First, I select the channel that will initiate the trigger (or the “this” in the “if this then that” chain).

Choose Trigger in IFTTT

Choosing a trigger channel in IFTTT

Once I’ve selected a channel, I need to choose a trigger action. For this recipe, I’ll choose “Any new post” in the WordPress channel. This means my recipe will be “triggered” every time a new post appears on LibTechTalk.

Choose Trigger in IFTTT

Choose “Any new post” in the WordPress as the recipe trigger.

Next, I choose the channel in which I want the next action to occur (or the “that” in the “if this then that” chain).

Choose action in IFTTT

Setting up an action

In this case, I want the action to occur on my Facebook page, and will select the Facebook channel accordingly. Then, I’ll choose the action I want to occur in Facebook, in this case “Create a link post.”

Choose action in IFTTT

Choose an action in IFTTT

After selecting the action, I can customize how the post will appear in on my Facebook page.

Complete action in IFTTT

Customize an action

Finally, add in a description of the recipe and I’m done! I can also choose to share the recipe with other users, turn the recipe “off,” or delete the recipe altogether.

Finished personal recipe

A personal recipe in IFTTT

Using IFTTT

Although IFTTT does not allow you to monitor any of the activity in your social media accounts, it takes some of the hassle out of linking activities and content across several different sites. You will still need to manage the spontaneous engagement that is so important in cultivating a vibrant social media presence, but IFTTT can help you automate the routine tasks you find yourself completing time and time again. Best of all, IFTTT is free to use and can be accessed anywhere you have internet access.

Ready to dive into IFTTT?

How do you use IFTTT? Do you have any great recipes? Tell us in the comments!

 

Advertisements

Thought you could only check out at the library? Try checking in.

Whether you know it or not, patrons may already be “checking in” at your library!  Foursquare, the latest social networking application is slowly catching on around the country and the library is not immune.  Most basically, Foursquare, along with other similar applications (loopt.com, gowalla.com,and brightkite.com) gives the user a way to share his or her location with his or her friends on Foursquare as well as Twitter and Facebook if desired.  However, a patron advertising use of the library (by checking in) to his or her friends is just one of the many ways that a library can use Foursquare for library marketing and even instruction!

One of the major draws of Foursquare for its users is that it has game components.  Not only are you letting your friends know where you are, but you are also competing against them for the most places visited.  Additionally, Foursquare has integrated a “mayorship”  aspect where the person who checks in at a particular location the most becomes mayor.  As a Foursquare user myself, I’m surprised as to what lengths I’ll go to just to become mayor of my favorite places.  Libraries can further this competition by giving an incentive to patrons who become mayor.  Incentives can range from prizes such as library t-shirts or mugs even to library fine reversal!  Libraries without money for prizes could give the prize of fame by posting the mayor’s name prominently in the library.

Cook Library Foursquare Tip

Foursquare can even be used as an instructional tool.  Tips can be added to locations so that when a person checks in at your library or at an establishment near your library, a tip will pop up on the screen.  Multiple tips can be added by you and your patrons, however only one tip per check in will be displayed.  As these tips are displayed, they can be saved by the user and checked off as they are accomplished.  This system could most certainly be used in a library or university orientation session.

In addition to points, mayorships, and tips, Foursquare also has another gaming component- badges.  Badges are available for completing any number of different check-ins.  Get the “Gym Rat” badge for checking in at a gym facility ten or more times in a month, or get the “School Night” badge for checking in after 3am on a school night!  How could these badges be used at a library or university setting?  Companies, organizations, and even universities are working with Foursquare to develop badges related to events or in the case of Harvard University places around campus.  Harvard’s badge is used for new student orientation.  While getting a badge developed for an individual library maybe a difficult task, working with other libraries or even the university at large may help development.  That badge  could be used in turn for a variety of marketing, instructional, and even recruitment purposes.

What about privacy!?!?  While Foursquare does share a person’s location, it does so only when that person chooses to share.  A user can even check in without sharing his or her location with anyone, therefore accumulating points, badges, or mayorships without divulging location information.  Another thing to keep in mind is that your library location is most likely on Foursquare whether you put it there or not, so why not capitalize on something that your patrons are already using?  While I’m not sure I’d recommend that libraries or universities require students to play Foursquare for any assignment, Foursquare is a great way to market services to students already using the social networking tool.

Social Networking for Professionals

Online Social Networks such as Facebook and MySpace are fun ways to stay connected to past classmates and colleagues. However, as far as social networks go, there are other networks that provide a more professional feel (i.e. I am willing to wager that you will never find photos of keg stands on LinkedIn). LinkedIn is a networking tool for professionals. It has over 36 million professionals from 170 industries, including Libraries, Higher Education, and Information Technology & Services.

Creating a free profile on LinkedIn enables you to find, be introduced to, and collaborate with professionals both near and far. Adding people to your list of “Connections” expands your professional network, allowing you to see people in the networks of your Connections (2nd Degree Connections) and even the networks of your Connections’ Connections (3rd Degree Connections). No one will be listed as a 1st Degree Connection without your confirmation.

connections_sm

Once you have established a list of Connection, you can then use LinkedIn to find career and collaboration opportunities, to be introduced to others through mutual contacts, and to be recommended by people who know your work.

discussion_sm1You can further expand your network by joining LinkedIn Groups, such as ALA, ACRL, alumni associations, etc. Groups allow you to see updates on what other members are doing and initiate/participate in group discussion forums.

In 2008, LinkedIn began allowing members to embed select online services within their profile pages. For example, you can embed a polling tool, Amazon reading lists, and feeds for your latest posts to WordPress and/or SlideShare. As soon as I publish this post, it will automatically appear on my LinkedIn profile!

I believe the more you play around in LinkedIn the more you will benefit from it, so why not get started? Create a profile highlighting your education and work experience, make Connections, and experiment with the many career development features LinkedIn has to offer.