Tag Archive for aggregation tools

Simple Social Media Automation with ifttt

The idea of pressing a button to make life easier has always been the catalyst for modern day conveniences. From sci-fi movies to the latest gadgets, automation can be quite sexy and compelling.  For example, take Apple’s recent announcement of Siri, its voice-activated iPhone assistant that promises to do everything but make your bed. Unfortunately, Siri won’t be available for a while so I want to talk about another social media automation tool that’s amassed a base of loyal fans in less than nine months. It’s called ifttt and it’s making little things happen online in a big way.

Screenshot from itfff.com

ifttt offers a super simple solution for combining two web services or online channels together through the creation of tasks. The acronym stands for “if this then that” and the concept is based on triggers and actions.  For example, I recently created a task that states if I publish a blog post here as my trigger, then the action will be to send a tweet out. Or I could have all new photos taken via instagram sent to my dropbox account. ifttt has roughly 25 channels in the portfolio at the moment including popular sites like Last.fm, LinkedIn, Weather.com and YouTube to name a few. However, what gives ifttt its cool factor is the addition of communication devices such as email, SMS and phone capabilities to the mix. You could set up an email or text message that alerts you to rain forecasts or perhaps a price drop in a stock you’re following. Talk about having your own virtual assistant.

For businesses, ifttt will help lessen the burden of content syndication among various social networks. Granted, social media automation will never replace authentic community engagement but it does have its place in the sun. As I see it, there are three main value propositions of automating social media tasks.  First, you can manage digital assets for better organization and not have to manually transfer files in between services. Second, you can communicate to multiple networks about recent activities without having to draft multiple notes. For me, this translates to increased productivity meaning more time I can devote to creating valuable content.  Third, you can automatically capture knowledge that’s being shared online for increased insights, which is always a good thing. And to think that we don’t even have to press a button to make these things happen is even more amazing.

I have to give Kudos to itfff for allowing members the option of publicly sharing tasks, which are called recipes. This was a smart move by the company since it can be seen as the viral component of the site. Members can scan recipes and quickly add tasks to their own account. I also recommend checking out Tested.com and their piece on the 10 Clever Ways to Automate your Online Life with ifttt.

If you’re interested in test driving ifttt, drop me your email address and I’ll send you an invite.

Content Curators Playing a Larger Role Online

Photo courtesy of Rafeejewell

With the ever increasing amount of online information from social networks, the need for organizing it has never been greater. Look around and there’s no shortage of aggregation tools to help us filter out the important stuff. Services like Summify, Scoop.it, and News.me offer ways to identify, organize and share the most relevant content online. Another such tool is Paper.li, which scans the posts of your Twitter followers and automatically publishes the news from your network on a single webpage. Personally, I like the easy-to-read format since it resembles a newspaper with photos, bylines, etc. I use it to review content on a daily basis since it’s a lot more enjoyable than reviewing linear feeds in Hootsuite.

Recently, I came across a discussion thread on LinkedIn that slammed Paper.li claiming that the automated curation tool was nothing but an annoyance. The biggest complaint from folks was that it created “comment spam” on Twitter with its daily promos alerting followers that a new edition had been published. People are up in arms that those little promos only name the Twitter followers who retweeted the story and don’t credit authors of the stories themselves. Guys, sorry to break it to you but Paper.li is ahead of the curve on this one.

In this world of information overload, there’s now a new layer in the media ecosystem: the curator. If it wasn’t for that person who retweeted the story in the first place, you probably wouldn’t have seen it. So naming the retweeters in daily promos is the right course of action. Twitter is like a fire hose and Paper.li is selecting random tweets that would have otherwise been missed. Yes, they’re randomly chosen but I find a lot of value in them because they praise others for their contributions. It reminds me that they’re part of my network and I can appreciate their contributions that much more. I know when I’m named in someone’s newspaper it motivates me to continue sharing that type of content.

While I don’t believe that Paper.li is the perfect tool, it does provide a valuable service. The market for content curation is still in its infancy. New products are being launched every month thus giving the role of the content curator an even larger role in the online media world.

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