What is IFTTT and how does it work
IFTTT is an automation service. Many services in the technology world are API based. That means through functions called API’s (Application Programming Interfaces) they can be asked to perform certain functions.
For example, when you click Send in your email, there is an API function sent to the email service server asking it to send the contents of your email text box to the email address in the To: box.
API’s are the language used by services online to communicate.
Other Automation Services: Zapier, Microsoft Power Automate
How to use IFTTT in your life
You can use IFTTT by automating various tasks. In order to do that, the services you use have to have an IFTTT integration.
Some examples of usage for IFTTT:
- Turn OFF the thermostat when your calendar has an event named “Vacation”. This would require integration between your iOS or Google Calendar and your Thermostat.
- Send yourself a text message when there is snow/rain in the forecast for your area during the time of your commute. This would require integration from a weather service and the location of your phone.
- Post on all your social media accounts when you write a new blog post. This would require integrations between your blogging platform (ex. WordPress) and your social media.
- Send yourself an email with the joke of the day.
- Save all the tweets you like in a Google Sheets file.
- Save a link to all the YouTube Videos you liked in a file
How to post tweets automatically using IFTTT
You may have seen on Twitter or Facebook that some posts are “published via IFTTT”. Many bloggers or website administrators set up extensive IFTTT schedules to publish or collect data from their social media accounts using IFTTT.
So how does it really work in plain English?
IFTTT uses one of the basic programming commands existing in most programming languages.
The simple IF command.
IFTTT is an acronym that simply signifies IF This Then That.
In simple terms, if This condition occurs, then do That Action. The IFTTT website is built on the principle that devices and apps of today interact.
- If I get an e-mail with the subject “Job Offer” Then send me a text.
- If I like a video on YouTube Then Share that video with my Friends on Facebook
- If I post a picture on Instagram Then Share the picture on my Twitter and Facebook
Get the idea?
Using the principle above, you’ll learn how to schedule your tweets. Your tweets will have to have content and a tweet date. You can set them up as events on a calendar because events have contents and dates. Next, IFTTT would be able to pick them up at the set date and send the contents as a tweet.
To make this work, we’ll use Google Calendar. You can set events in your calendar and you even import/export them through the use of csv files.
As of 2022, IFTTT has a free plan that allows you to use as many existing applets as you want as well as to create 5 applets of your own.
If you follow the tutorial below, you can learn how to do this on your own.
How to schedule the first tweet
This tutorial will teach you how to setup a simple IFTTT schedule in order to schedule Twitter posts free using a Google Calendar event. First, you’ll learn how to schedule one single tweet. In the next part, you’ll learn how to schedule an entire schedule of tweets for years ahead.
Step 1. Create IFTTT, Google and Twitter accounts
You’re going to need an IFTTT account, a Google account and a Twitter account.
You can skip one or more of these steps if you already have one or more of these accounts. However, we will be using a Google Calendar account and if you use your Google Calendar for personal appointments, you might want to create a dedicated one for scheduling tweets so you avoid tweeting your personal events.
Step 2. Schedule Twitter post free as a calendar event
Open Google Calendar and create a new event like this:
- Give your event a title. I usually put here the link to my content and a few hashtags. This will become more valuable when we create automation later to create these events in bulk.
- Enter a location that is a unique string not used in normal language. Something like “TweetThisNow” in one word. You’ll see why in Step 3.
- Enter a start in the future when you want your tweet to post.
- Enter the contents of the tweet in the Event and Save.
If you want this tweet to post every month or so, set an event re-occurrence. This it useful when you want to post a blog post for example every month. This is useful if you want to follow a set schedule. If you want your tweets to go at random times on a more flexible schedule, there is a better method. We’ll talk about that later
Step 3. Create your first applet
An applet is a small script you’ll create in IFTTT to post the tweet when the event is reached in Google Calendar. It’s easier than it sounds. Don’t worry, you don’t have to code.
Open IFTTT and log in. Tap on “My Applets”
Click on the “Create” button to add a new applet.(you can do this on the web on in the IFTTT app)
Click on the “Add” button on the If THIS line
In THIS section we’ll set the Condition for the Action. This is the trigger that will prompt the writing of the tweet. In our case, the condition is the start of the event that we just created in Google Calendar. This will be our trigger service. Select Google Calendar (you can search for it if not visible)
If it’s your first time using Google Calendar with IFTTT, you’ll be asked to connect your Google Calendar. Log in and authorize IFTTT. This is one time only per service.
Next, we are going to select what trigger will cause our action (posting a tweet)
Select “Event from search starts”
Now let’s create the trigger when an event that contains the text “TweetThisNow” starts. We added that keyword in the location of our Google Calendar event, remember?
Hit “Create Trigger”
Next, we define our action. Our action will be under the THAT section
Notice that the THIS section is already connected to Google Calendar
Tap on THAT
Select Twitter as a service.
The action will be “Post a Tweet”
Delete the default content of the tweet
Tap inside the white box and tap “Add Ingredient”
Select “Description” – this will be your Note you added in the event Note.
I usually add the title on the next line with the “add ingredient” button. I usually put the hashtags and the link to my content in the title. You can create a new line in the Tweet text box by pressing Enter.
In the end, it will look like this.
Click on “Create Action” to finish.
Next, you name your applet and click on Finish.
This is all. Now all you have to do is wait. IFTTT will monitor your calendar and when an event occurs that has TweetThisNow anywhere in the title, description or location, IFTTT will trigger the action to post the tweet on your linked Twitter account and per the recipe you just defined.
Scheduling in bulk
So, yes, you may think that creating Google Events is even more boring than writing actual tweets on Twitter. But there is a purpose in learning this. You don’t have to create them one by one using Google Calendar.
Once you learn how to schedule one you can move to step 2 of this scheduling strategy. You’ll learn to import tweets using Excel or Google Sheets csv files directly into Google Calendar. That will help you schedule thousands of them at once.
In the next steps, you’ll see a step-by-step method of not only loading a bulk of events in Google Calendar but how to take it to the next level.
- use the power of Excel or Google Sheets to randomize the tweet date and time to create a long-term calendar that will help you automate all your content for years ahead
- use ChatGPT to create unique and new content
- and many more tips and tricks
The Excel Template
Google Calendar can import a list of events using a csv file. Using the method above and a list of tweets properly formated in a csv file, you can schedule tweets for years ahead.
I like to do this in Excel and save it to a csv file, but you can also do it in Google Sheets and export it as a csv file.
The format needed to be imported in Google Calendar needs to contain the following fields
- Start Date
- Start Time
- End Date
- End Time
I typically use the Subject for hashtags and a link, I use the description for the tweet and I use the location for the keyword used by IFTTT to search for events in my calendar.
I use the Start Date and Start Time as the date and time when I want the tweet to be posted and I fill up the information in End Date and End Time with a formula that moves the time 10 minutes after the start time.
When posting, IFTTT will look for the keyword and find it in the location, will stack the Description and the Subject in two lines and post them at the dedicated time.
The scheduling time is important. For example, if you want to schedule tweets periodically, you should try to not post them at the same hour and on the same day of the week. It is best to post them at a random time and with a random number of days in between.
You can achieve that with Excel formulas.
I do have an Excel Template that you could use. This template contains a setup tab where you can set up the frequency in days between a minimum number of days and a maximum number of days. You can also set up the start date of your schedule
In this example, your schedule will schedule a tweet between 10 and 15 days starting on Jan 23, 2023.
This setup will produce a schedule like the one below
Notice the random dates and times as per setup. All you have to do is to fill up the file with your own hashtags, links and content and copy the formula down for as long as you want.
If you would like to download this template instead of building your own, you can do it here.
Once your schedule is complete, save it as a csv file. That will only save the tab with the schedule and will clear all the formulas. The resulting csv file is ready to be imported in Google Calendar
Import to Google Calendar
This is the last step. Go into your Google Calendar, go to the settings menu on the top right.
Go to Import, select the csv file and import it to your calendar.
This will give you a full calendar of events that will translate into a full schedule of tweets for a long time. And all this can be done for free.