It’s been a while since I engaged with IFTTT (If This Then That), a free service that allows even non-technical people to connect various digital services. IFTTT recipes – basically “if THIS happens then do THIS” – are an easy way to automate nearly unlimited tasks. I spent some time last week analyzing new recipes and experimenting with my own to see how someone could automate Twitter activity through the service and hopefully grow your follower base. This isn’t one of those “from 200 followers to 200,000 in 7 days!” deals; my goal was to simply learn a bit about IFTTT and find out if I can keep a Twitter account somewhat active without manual oversight.
How Do IFTTT Recipes Work?
There are a ton of recipes already created on IFTTT that you can search and implement yourself, or you can explore possibilities by selecting two services you want to connect.
When setting up a recipe you just choose the two services and include any information necessary for your need. For example, let’s say you want to automatically thank every new Twitter follower. This recipe has already been created on IFTTT, so you just find it and click to add to your recipes.
You can then edit the recipe details, such as the exact message you want tweeted to all new followers.
My IFTTT RecipeS FOR Twitter
I’m a bit sensitive to obvious automation and overtly spammy techniques, so I took things slow to start my experiments. Using two of my Twitter accounts – @Boombox_FM (R.I.P.) and @BizDevDeals – my goal was to gain new followers and increase account activity with minimal daily upkeep.
IFTTT Recipe #1: Build a Twitter list from a specific hashtag.
What: An automatic search is performed for a specific hashtag (mine was “#bizdev”) and the hashtag user is added to a list under my account (called “Biz Dev Peeps“). I did this for three separate lists for three separate hashtags.
Why: Building lists is a great way to stand out in the “Notifications” tab of Twitter, as anyone you add to the list is notified in a message that looks very different from all the other ones about followers/likes/retweets. This should, in theory, lead to new targeted followers. Other users can subscribe to your lists as well.
IFTTT Recipe #2: Follow new Twitter followers back.
What: Not everything is what it seems. This recipe doesn’t actually auto follow anyone, it just adds new followers to a list called “myfollowers.”
Why: In the early days of IFTTT and Twitter, this recipe actually worked the way it is supposed to. Then Twitter cut off API access to third parties and things like auto follow largely went away. So, I just powered off this recipe as it is largely useless. I suppose you could keep this recipe going and every week manually follow all the users in the list.
IFTTT Recipe #3: When a new “hot post” is made in a certain subreddit, tweet it with an image.
What: Every time a new post makes it to Reddit’s /r/listentothis “hot” tab, the @Boombox_FM account tweets out a link and an image to the post.
Why: This specific subreddit surfaces some great content that is closely tied to BoomboxFM’s mission, so this recipe allows us to tweet fresh, curated music every single day. I also added a hasthag (“#newmusic”) to the automated tweets to increase their potential reach. I am a bit concerned about the volume of these tweets, as I’m seeing about 7-10 each day.
UPDATE: The downside of auto-tweeting content without reviewing it first has revealed itself to me:
IFTTT Recipe #4: Retweet text of new tweets from a specific user.
What: Well, I thought (assumed?) this recipe would simply retweet another user’s new tweets. Alas, it does not. It actually copies that user’s tweet and tweets it out fresh from your account. See below:
Why: This one is kinda weird. I don’t think you can auto-retweet anymore through Twitter, so I guess this is a creative workaround using IFTTT. But it’s certainly ethically questionable. It’s also very intriguing. Maybe one of you growth hackers out there can think of a way to use this recipe effectively.
IFTTT Recipes: Results
For @Boombox_FM, I’ve gained about 120 followers in a little over a week and now have over 50 subscribers to my new lists.
For @BizDevDeals, I’ve got my first 18 followers and my first 20 list subscribers.
No mountains were moved here, but I satisfied my desire to check back in with IFTTT and see what options Twitter users have to automate activity and grow account.