If This Then That (aka. IFTTT, pronounced 'ift') is a web tool for automating actions between two apps, and is an essential part of any journalist's kit box.
Users create automated tasks known as ‘Recipes’ by combining two 'Ingredients', for example, adding information to a Google Docs spreadsheet whenever a certain hashtag is used on Twitter.
National Public Radio's social media desk recently blogged about how the outlet is using some of IFTTT's newer features to track mentions of NPR on Twitter and to monitor tweets around live events.
Journalism.co.uk originally published a list of IFTTT Recipes for journalists back in 2011, some of which are still relevant while others are now defunct. RIP Google Reader.
Below is an updated list of Recipes to assist journalists with newsgathering, productivity and monitoring information around a particular topic or beat.
1. Add tweets with a specific hashtag to a Google Docs spreadsheet
If you're monitoring a hashtag around a breaking news story or event, or even a specific topic such as #journalism, it might be useful to collect all the tweets featuring this hashtag in a spreadsheet to make sure you don't miss anything.
If you've created a hashtag for a particular campaign or project you're working on, such as the GEN's #HackEbola, this is also a good method for tracking mentions and feedback.
2. Get a daily email showing tweets posted around a particular location
Receiving a list of tweets by email might not offer real-time results in the way a location search column on Tweetdeck does.
However, when used in conjunction with Tweetdeck, having a list of potentially relevant tweets to skim through when you have a couple of minutes free is useful to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
This Recipe would be particularly useful for regional or hyperlocal reporters monitoring a specific ‘patch’, or for any journalist monitoring information around a large, localised event.
Simply add the Recipe above, input the city, postcode or street name you want your search to cover and then define how wide you want the search area to be. You will then receive a daily email digest of all tweets posted within this area (providing the user has enabled geolocation on their Twitter account).
3. Receive a daily email digest of 'hot' new posts in any subreddit
Reddit might be the self-proclaimed 'front page of the internet', but it can be tricky to navigate your way to the most interesting content.
This Recipe fires every time a new post becomes one of the 10 'hottest' posts in a specified subreddit, so whatever is receiving a lot of 'upvotes' from other Reddit users.
Above, I've created a Recipe to notify me of the hottest posts in the /r/inthenews subreddit.
Below is a screencast of how you can use this Recipe to trigger your own 'hot posts' email digest, which can be daily or weekly and sent at a time you choose.
4. Get an email notification when a new Reddit post matches your search
In journalism, one of the things Reddit is best for is researching niche topics. To make monitoring easier, you can set IFTTT to send you an email whenever a new post is submitted to Reddit matching a certain search term.
The majority of Recipes refresh every 15 minutes, and some of them are even faster.
Getting a notification by email ensures you will be one of the first to spot a potential story, providing you're keeping a close eye on your email of course. If not, you can always receive alerts as an iOS push notification.
5. Post Instagram photos as in-stream Twitter pics
When you share an Instagram photo to Twitter, the photo shows up as a link rather than an embed within the tweet.
But asking people to click an extra link in order to see your photo is annoying, not to mention the fact that tweets with embedded images tend to get more engagement than those without.
This Recipe gets around that by automatically embedding any images you post to Instagram within the actual tweet.
6. Save iOS photo to Dropbox
For journalists on the scene of a breaking story or some other big event, getting photos swiftly back to colleagues in the newsroom can be a challenge.
Using this Recipe, any photographs that are taken can automatically be saved to a shared folder in Dropbox, from where others can download them.
Word of warning: Remember to disable this Recipe once you've finished covering the story, otherwise it could have embarrassing consequences!
This alternative Recipe offers the same function for Android phones.
7. Receive an alert on your iOS device when a certain @user tweets
Another handy IFTTT Recipe for monitoring Twitter is to get a notification on your iPhone or iPad whenever a particular user tweets.
Again, this would be particularly useful for journalists working remotely from the office, when they may not have laptop with them, but still want to keep track of, say, any tweets from key people or organisations connected to the story.
This Recipe is also available for Android users here.
8. Send saved Feedly articles to Evernote
If you use the Feedly RSS reader, this Recipe sends any articles marked 'saved for later' to Evernote so you can read them whenever you like, wherever you are.
This has the added benefit of ensuring articles that are of interest to you are backed up if they are later removed from the web for some reason.
Note you must have a Feedly Pro subscription ($5 a month) to use Feedly with IFTTT. If you prefer, you can send saved Feedly articles to Pocket instead.
9. Save your favourited tweets to Pocket
You might 'favourite' tweets that link to interesting-sounding articles with the good intention of reading them later, but how often do you remember to come back to them?
This recipe saves any link within a favourited tweet to Pocket, making it just that little bit easier to keep track of.
Pocket also has the added benefit of making content available to read offline.
10. Dump your ideas (by text)
Sometimes you get your best story ideas when you're rushing to be somewhere, or having dinner with friends, or typically any time when it isn't convenient to stop and write them down.
Scraps of paper easily get misplaced, and the 'notes' function of your smartphone can run wild if left unattended to.
That's where this Recipe saves the day. Simply text your brilliant idea to the specified number and it will be added to a spreadsheet in your Google Drive (if you're outside the US don't forget to include the dialling code +1).
Standard disclaimer: Please check your phone carrier charges for texting the States before using this Recipe.
- Do you have a favourite IFTTT Recipe we've failed to mention? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @journalismnews.
@abigailedge I find the RSS-email one useful. I set up RSS feeds for the PR pages of the Virgin, Scaled Composites websites at the weekend..— Mike Hills (@mikewhills) November 4, 2014
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