How To Keep Your Money: Schedule Tweets with IFTTT + gCal

TL;DR

Several services (e.g., Buffer, HootSuite, SocialOomph) offer to schedule your tweets; in exchange, you pay an ongoing monthly fee. Or, you accept limitations to enjoy the free version. The same goal can be accomplished with an IFTTT-induced marriage between Google Calendar and Twitter. Cost? $0. Here’s how.

Estimated Reading Time: 4:30 minutes

Setting up the basics to schedule tweets with Google Calendar and IFTTT

Understand: The procedure discussed in this article works best with text-only tweets. If you want to include an image, Buffer or one of its counterparts presents a better option.

1️⃣ Create an IFTTT Account

You know the drill. Visit IFTTT.com, and sign-up by creating your login credentials: eMail address and password. Once “in”, go to your Profile to create a username. Otherwise, part of your eMail address will be used for that purpose.

2️⃣ Create a Calendar for the Singular Purpose of Twitter Scheduling

Either create or use your current Google Calendar account. Once logged in, create a new sub-calendar. This cal will be used for only one purpose: entering tweets, to be posted to Twitter on the day and at the time you set within the entry.

3️⃣ Connect Your Google Calendar Account with IFTTT

At IFTTT, run a search: Google Calendar. When it appears in the resulting hit list, tap it. This opens IFTTT’s dedicated Google Calendar page/channel, where a Connect button appears. Clicking that button tells the system to guide you through the set up.

IFTTT will request permission to attach itself to the gCal account. After you grant permission, the required connection will be in place.

4️⃣ Connect Your Twitter Account with IFTTT

Rinse and repeat the steps described in the preceding Google Calendar section. Once this Twitter connection is solidified, you’ll have tackled the main chores required to enjoy the magical goodness that is IFTTT. In other words, Google Calendar and Twitter are on speaking terms. We simply need to create a mechanism (applet / recipe) to coerce a BFF relationship between them.

Critical Component for SetUp: gCal’s Description field

Most access gCal (Google Calendar) through a client, that is, an app on a mobile device. Usually, we focus on a mere handful of calendar fields: title, date, time, and perhaps a location.

A potential problem rears its ugly head, courtesy of a vital component missing in many gCal apps → the calendar description field. The Schedule Tweets applet/recipe relies on the description field. The field may be available in every app, but finding it is easier said than done.

I worked my way, literally, through upwards of a dozen iOS apps, intent on pinpointing an app showing gCal’s description field. Of the three found, only one proved worthy of serious consideration. CalenGoo (iOS/ $7) answered every demand I tossed at it. And yes, an Android version ($6) is available, presumably with the same features witnessed in its iOS counterpart:

  • reflecting a spacious Week View
  • honoring the color-coding established at the Google Calendar site, per calendar (but you can change coloring within the app if desired)
  • providing an intuitive K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) user interface
  • including a template feature
  • respecting one’s preferred start day, i.e. Sunday vs Monday, in every view
  • making it easy to filter, i.e. show only xyz and abc calendars

CalenGoo is NOT required. You can skip a client and work directly at the Google Calendar website. CalenGoo simply eases data entry chores.

Working With IFTTT’s PreConfigured gCal → Twitter Applet

✧︎︎ A Visual WalkThrough of “Schedule Tweets”

IFTTT’s Home Page

We need to find the preconfigured gCal-to-Twitter applet
We need to find the preconfigured gCal-to-Twitter applet

.

Tap SEARCH. Enter “Schedule Tweets” in the search field. Tap the applet “Schedule Tweets using Google Calendar”

Spare yourself trauma by piggybacking on what's available
Spare yourself trauma by piggybacking on what’s available

.

Turn on the applet by tapping within the oval box, then tap the cog wheel

We're just about done
We’re just about done

.

Decide if you want to receive a notification each time the applet runs. Then, tap Save.

If you want a notification each time the applet runs, leave as is. If you don't want notifications, change it here. Then, save.
If you want a notification each time the applet runs, leave as is. If you don’t want notifications, change it here. Then, save.

.

Exploiting CalenGoo’s Template Feature

Enter the app, create and save a tweet. Tap and hold that tweet to open it. Choose Send, appearing at the bottom of the popup screen. Tap save as template. Review the checked options to determine which defaults should be used in each ScheduledTweet. This can be changed on-the-fly when desired.

The screenshot reflects the short template creation process.

Setting up a Schedule Tweets template
Setting up a Schedule Tweets template

The template reduces manual input when creating a scheduled tweet. I use CalenGoo’s Week view throughout the bulk scheduling process. I tap a day block to select it, signified by highlighting. I double tap in an empty space within the day block. This opens the event editing screen, where I select Send (bottom), then ScheduleTweet. I change the time, and paste/create the tweet. Everything else, such as specific calendar, is pre-filled via the template.

Creating & Maintaining a Tweet-This Database

Let’s assume I’m surfing the web. I decide to save the article shown on my browser’s screen. I use the iOS Share Sheet. Specifically, I select Bit.ly, which auto-creates a short URL and auto-tosses it in the clipboard.

If you have a (free) Bit.ly account, accessing your Bit.ly dashboard will reveal the number of clicks on each Bit.ly-generated short URL.

I return to the Share Sheet, choosing Drafts. Drafts auto-captures both the page title and the original / long URL. I paste the Bit.ly-generated short URL, tap “append”, and dump the info into my 2Twitter Drafts file.

During a bulk-scheduling session, I copy an entry from Drafts. Using the ScheduledTweets template in CalenGoo, I then paste the data from Drafts into the Google Calendar description field.

The CalenGoo template, combined with my stash in Drafts, empowers scheduling 4-5 tweets a day, over the course of a week, within a handful of minutes.

Special Note:

Most tweets I bulk schedule are well under the 140 character limit. Where I’m unsure, I test by pasting the tweet into the official Twitter app. I use the official app because most Twitter clients fail to honor Twitter’s latest count revisions (e.g. assigning a certain character number to each URL, regardless of the genuine count/length of that URL).

Call to Action

Do you prefer to spend a few minutes weekly lining up your tweets for posting throughout the week, as opposed to tweeting each post manually? Your options are plentiful. Why not make an appointment to explore them, then decide which method (service/ app) best suits your style?

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