small-business-automation-tricks|Photo Courtesy ofDepositphotos.com are you’re already using a few automated rules to streamline simple online tasks. Rules can automatically sort email into folders, alert you when your name appears online, respond to a call with a text message and much more. If you don’t have a central dashboard from which to manage and coordinate your rules, however, these powerful tools soon become complex and overwhelming.

Now, online tools such as IFTTT (If This, Then That) are helping busy small business owners manage automation rules for repetitive tasks, according to an article on the American Express small business blog OPEN Forum. IFTTT helps users coordinate virtually unlimited actions and combinations across more than 60 online services, from file-sharing tools and social media to email and SMS texting.

But what does IFTTT really offer in concrete terms? Here are five ideas for how small businesses can use IFTTT to automate tasks, saving time and effort.

  1. Track online buzz about your company and industry: Using IFTTT, you can have Google News constantly scan for your company’s name or other search terms in the news, then save the link to a spreadsheet or send an alert to your email or smartphone.
  2. Use alerts to manage a sales team: A solo entrepreneur might want to receive an alert for every sale, but if you’re managing a sales team, you can customize alerts to notify you of especially large or unusual sales.
  3. Track social media followers: When a social media user likes your Instagram photo, save the user’s information to a spreadsheet. Tracking social media contacts in a central location can help you build relationships online and reward active followers, perhaps with a coupon or small gift.
  4. Monitor your competitors’ websites: IFTTT rules can help you track changes in your marketplace and your competition. For example, it can alert you instantly to sales or provide a weekly digest of your competition’s blog posts.
  5. Repost website content to social media: IFTTT can help you automatically promote your new website content. For example, every time you add a new blog post, you can use it to trigger posts on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media profiles.

How your company can get the most out of IFTTT depends on your specific business needs, your industry and any number of other factors. The most important thing is to experiment and explore creative ways to automate routine tasks.

Please share your experience and expertise in the comments below. What are some of your favorite ways to use IFTTT?

Source: American Express OPEN Forum, March 2013