How to Use IFTTT for Event Planning, Social Media Management, and More

A program helps planners be more efficient by automating tasks between apps.

By Mitra Sorrells October 7, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT

Photo: Shiva Kilaru

Technology has dramatically changed the process of planning and hosting events. Gone are cumbersome three-ring binders filled with contracts, diagrams, and menus. Event photos now appear instantly on social media, instead of waiting days or weeks to get hard copies from a photographer. But even in digital form, all of this content—from meeting notes to tweets to photos—does require time and effort to manage. IFTTT is a free service that automates connections between apps to alleviate some of that day-to-day work.

IFTTT (pronounced like “gift” without the “g”) stands for “If This Then That,” which describes how the connections, called ”recipes,” are linked. Each recipe consists of a trigger, or “if this” statement, such as “Any time someone tweets with my event’s hashtag,” followed by a “then that” action, such as, “Save that tweet to an Evernote folder.” Recipes can be created between more than 130 different applications, called “channels,” including Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Evernote, Gmail, and others. Companies such as ESPN, Nest, and Microsoft also have channels, and IFTTT also works for physical devices such as Philips Hue lightbulbs, Android Wear, Fitbit, and Belkin WeMo. Users can also activate a trigger by sending an email to trigger@ifttt.com or by leaving a voice mail at an assigned IFTTT number. One example would be that any time a voice mail is left at a designated number, IFTTT should send a transcript via email.

IFTTT launched in 2010, and now 15 million recipes are triggered every day. Most of those are personal recipes and are available only to the person who created them, but about 210,000 are public and available to anyone through the system’s search function. Most recipes check for new trigger data every 15 minutes; they can also be turned on and off as needed.

Here are several recipes that automate tasks that event professionals may encounter.

Download Facebook photos I'm tagged in to Dropbox
Send specific #hashtag photos on Instagram to Dropbox
Upload new iOS photos to Google Drive
Upload public Flickr photos to Facebook

Social Media
Save favorite tweets to Evernote
Tweet my Facebook status updates
Keep a list of people whose tweets I’ve favorited
Post to Facebook when I arrive at the event
Push Instagram content to Storify
Post YouTube uploads to Facebook

Email meeting notes to a shared Google Drive folder
Add new events in my Facebook Group to Google Calendar
Create Google Calendar events out of iOS reminders
If it's going to rain tomorrow, send me an email

Put my LinkedIn connections in an Excel file on Google Drive
Send push notifications of package deliveries (works with UPS, USPS, DHL, and FedEx)
Log my work hours on Google Calendar
Turn on the lights at my event at sunset
Mute my Android device when I get to my event and turn on vibrate

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