How To: Use IFTTT to Crowdsource Conference Photos

Published: 2013-08-14 12:44 |

Category: Tips | Tags: how-to

A year ago, I discovered If This Then That (IFTTT), which might be one of the most innovated web services I’ve ever come across. Ever.

In short, it allows you to create simple programs that help manage things you do on the web. If you use the Internet a lot, you should use IFTTT. Like, today.

I started with some simple scripts to do things like auto-tweet new blog posts and tweet new YouTube uploads (a lot of stuff to do with tweeting, actually…).

As I played with it more, I got crazier ideas. For instance, I travel for work. If I drive my car, I can deduct the mileage from my taxes each spring. But, the IRS wants me to have proof of that mileage. Now, I could keep track of receipts, but that’s a little insane. I do have invoices, but I wanted one more level of tracking. Well, I created an IFTT recipe that will add my location (through Foursquare) to my Google Calendar when I use a certain tag with my check-in. You can grab it here.

Now, I’m trying to think of ways I can use it to share out what teachers and students are doing. For instance, I had an idea yesterday on ways to crowdsource photos from a conference. It takes some creative thinking around Gmail and a Flickr or Instagram account, but it can be done.

If you’re interested in using this recipe, you can grab it here, but there are instructions below.

  1. Set up a Gmail filter – There’s a good tutorial with a video here if you don’t know how to do this. The important thing is to make sure the filter is easy to manage in whatever account you’re using. A good way to manage it is to make the filter the name of the conference (or the Twitter hashtag you’re using).
  2. Make sure your attendees use that filter – IFTTT looks for that Gmail filter, so if the email isn’t grabbed by Gmail, their photo won’t make it to Flickr. I make sure they do this by making the subject line of the email the conference hashtag.
  3. Tagging on Flickr – The script is set to tag the photos with the name of the conference. This will help you manage those photos later if you want to add them to a set or group. I would keep that, but you can add more if you want to.
  4. Make sure people know about it! – Be sure to tell your attendees that all they have to do is email you a photo, and it will get posted automatically.

I’m looking for a way to get Twitter photo uploads to go to Flickr, but because you can’t use Twitter as an input anymore, that’s becoming a little more complicated. If you want people to use Instagram, you can create a similar recipe that looks for an Instagram tag and it will send those to Flickr for management later. I chose email because there are still a lot of people that aren’t on Twitter or Instagram, but use email. Seemed like a low barrier for entry.

Do you use IFTTT? What’s your favorite or most creative recipe? Share links in the comments!

Comments are always open. You can get in touch by sending me an email at