Using IFTTT to Automate Your WordPress Site

IFTTT stands for “If This Then That”. Their tagline is “Put the internet to work for you.” and it can certainly do that. IFTTT is a service that integrates with a whole load of different web services and monitors the web for a certain “trigger”, which could be a photo of you being tagged on Facebook, receiving an email in Gmail from a certain address, a specific hashtag being used on Twitter or hundreds of other options.

When one of these triggers occurs IFTTT can perform an action and pass the data from the trigger on to another web service. The combination of triggers and actions is called a recipe. You can create your own recipes or use one that’s already been created by the community. IFTTT has a great concise overview of what the service does and all the terminology

WordPress and IFTTT

One of the channels offered in IFTTT is WordPress so it can integrate with your self-hosted WordPress site or one hosted on wordpress.com.

Triggers

There are two available triggers for a WordPress Site:

Any new post – “This Trigger fires every time you publish a new post on your public WordPress blog.”
A new post with a tag or category – “This Trigger fires every time you publish a new post on your public WordPress blog with a specific tag or category.”


Some of the more useful pre-made recipes using these triggers are:

Tweet my blog post
Add a new WordPress post & it updates your Facebook Page with a link post
Archive WordPress posts to Evernote
Adds new WordPress posts to Google Calendar

Actions

There are also two actions available:

Create a post – “This Action will create a normal post on your WordPress blog.”
Create a photo post – “This Action will create a photo post on your WordPress blog from the given URL to an image.”

Again there are a number of useful pre-made recipes:

Making your “Reader’s Digest”
Post by #email to a #Wordpress blog.
Instagram to Blog
RSS Feed to WordPress Blog

Getting Creative

I’ve already listed a good number of super useful recipes but the real fun is in creating your own.

RSS to WordPress

This is the type of recipe people like to use with their own websites, pulling in shared and liked items from Reddit, StumbleUpon, DeviantArt etc. and creating links to them in posts within a certain category.

By importing content like this into a specific category you can edit your WordPress theme to output them in certain ways. For example, I could create a post for every item I like on Reddit, the post only has the item title as the post title and the link to the item on Reddit in plain text. Then since I know all these posts will always have the same structure I could make a function to go through 30 of them and output them all as a list of links on my homepage.

IFTTT also lets you pull in the content from RSS feeds into your posts so you are able to send full articles to your site via RSS (Note: make sure you are aware of any copyright issues there may be from publishing someone else’s content on your website).

RSS on Steroids with Yahoo Pipes

As a side note if you are interested in doing more advanced stuff with RSS feeds then Yahoo Pipes is the tool for you.
It lets you do incredibly advanced things with feeds from combining multiple feeds into one to filtering out useful / useless information.

Lifestreaming

IFTTT has channels that can see most things you share online, and if it’s not built in you will almost certainly be able to access it via a RSS feed. This makes IFTTT fantastic for lifesteaming.

Log your Music Habits with Last.fm

Last.fm is a service that tracks all the music you listen to and can give you music recommendations based off of this.
The songs you listen to can of course be pushed to your WordPress blog via IFTTT.

Track Physical Activity with a WeMo Motion Detector

The Belkin WeMo is a internet connected switch witch of course is connected to IFTTT. One of the available switches is motion activated so you can use it to log whenever you do something within your home.

Some creative IFTTT users have already set up recipes to tell them when their cat has used its’ litter box and tell the world when someone reaches for the cookie jar.

So you can only imagine the possibilities for lifestreaming all sorts of physical interaction without you touching a digital device at all.

IFTTT as a Simple Backup Tool

It’s simple and easy to use interface makes IFTTT a good alternative way of backing up your WordPress posts. You can back up posts to Dropbox, Evernote, Box and Google Drive so you never lose a post anywhere again. Although this is no replacement for a full backup system, it makes for a good way of archiving your posts. I personally back them up to Evernote so they are all fully search-able and easy to find on all devices rather than having to hunt through WordPress or backup files.

So Much More

I have only scratched the surface of what IFTTT can do for your WordPress site, you can do almost anything you can think of.
It is also far more than just a way to help manage and automate WordPress as there is a near endless amount of things you could get IFTTT to do for you in your day to day life.

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Martin is a developer at Design Junction, a Melbourne based web design and development agency. Martin prefers working in PHP, and loves breaking things and making them work better.

 
 
 

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