Zapier is a free tool for automating two different web apps, which works in a similar way to IFTTT.
For example, you could use it to add an RSS feed to a Facebook Page, or to send any images you post to Instagram to Dropbox. These actions are called 'zaps'.
In a recent article on Journalism.co.uk, I demonstrated how to use Zapier to add new Twitter followers and their location to a Google Docs spreadsheet.
This screencast shows how to add any mention of a particular search term, hashtag or username to a Google Docs spreadsheet, as described in the 12 steps below.
1. Log into Zapier and, on the dashboard, click 'make a new zap'.
2. Choose your 'trigger' and your 'action' apps. In this case my trigger app is Twitter and my action app is Google Docs. Then from the drop-down menus select 'search mention' and 'create new spreadsheet row'. Click continue.
3. If you have not already added your Twitter and Google Docs accounts to Zapier, you can do so here by logging in. You can also test the connections to make sure they are working properly. Click continue.
4. Next you need to tell Zapier what search term you want to track on Twitter. You could use a keyword, hashtag or username. I used #newsrw to track mentions of our forthcoming news:rewired digital journalism conference.
5. To widen your results, you can add custom filters to show more information using the drop-down menu. I added username, full name, user location, text, URL (to show the specific tweet URL) and 'created at' (to show the date the tweet was posted).
6. In my results I wanted to remove any tweets from our @journalismnews and @newsrewired accounts. To do this, I added two more custom filters using 'user_id' with the condition '(Text) does not contain.' Click continue. Then to get the user ID numbers of the Twitter accounts you want to exclude, go to tweeterID.com, type in your Twitter handle, and click 'convert'.
Paste these ID numbers into the 'value' box of your custom filters on Zapier.
7. The next step is to tell Zapier which Google spreadsheet you want to send the information to, so go over to Google Docs.
Here you need to create a basic Google spreadsheet with columns related to those filters you just set up on Zapier. I used Twitter handle, username, tweet text, tweet URL and date.
8. To help Zapier know where to send the information, you also need to fill in the fields with some sample data, for example, by adding a Twitter username into the 'Twitter handle' column and a URL to the 'tweet URL' column (I used my own details).
9. Go back to Zapier and add in the spreadsheet you have created in Google Docs, using the drop-down menu. If Zapier does not recognise the spreadsheet, simply refresh the page. Then hit continue.
10. Once you have done that, you need to tell Zapier which column you want to send the information you set up in those custom filters to. To do this, click the 'insert Twitter fields' and choose the relevant filter from the drop-down menu.
11. Here you can test your spreadsheet using random sample data to see if it is working properly. Click 'test Twitter trigger' and Zapier will generate three samples.
Click 'test zap with this sample', then go back to your Google Docs spreadsheet to check that the information has filtered in correctly. If not, you may need to look at your custom filters again.
12. Finally, name your Zap to make it easily identifiable and click the orange button to 'turn zap on'. The zap will run automatically in the background every 15 minutes and update the spreadsheet accordingly.
- View our previous screencasts on how to create a photo montage in Photoshop and how to use ThingLink to create interactive images.
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