Today I solved an issue that’s been a thorn in my side for over a year now, using a wonderful new service called Tray.
Tray is (and I’m sure they’re tired of this comparison already) like IFTTT but specifically for email. Due to the focus on email (GMail, specifically) they offer more controls than IFTTT, and therefore more functionality. You use an event of your choosing (for example, when an email is received from a specific address) to trigger an action (for example, save the attachment to your Dropbox). Think GMail’s labels and filters on crack.
My one, very specific problem
Part of my day job is to manage all the social media activity for Crunch, with the majority of the action being on Twitter. Ninety-nine percent of the time it’s all sunshine and lollipops, but every so often something will go wrong. As most self-employed people tend to do their books outside office hours, on the rare occasion it does go wrong it, I usually won’t know about it until the next morning.
Nobody likes work being foisted upon them outside their regular hours, but in cases where our clients are complaining in the evening or early morning I’ve found it’s definitely worth diving into the company Twitter account to address the problem head-on. We deal with people’s money – their very livelihoods – and if something is amiss the last thing you want to do it let them stew until 9am the next morning.
So, my problem until now has been how to make sure I’m notified if someone explodes on Twitter or Facebook between 5.30pm and 9am. The solutions I’ve tried include:
GMail filter in my Crunch account to forward any Twitter / Facebook notifications to my personal address. This ended up not working because on a busy day we’ll get 25-50 mentions, so it floods my personal inbox.
Sync the Crunch Twitter account to my phone. This ended up not working for similar reasons to the solution above, compounded by the fact that the Android Twitter app is pretty terrible.
Tweetdeck column on my home machine with a search string of “@TeamCrunch”, which would pick up anyone talking about Crunch. Problem here was I can’t take it with me.
Mercifully Tray provides a great solution. When I was let into their beta I set up this query –
This states that when an email arrives in my Crunch email account after 5.30pm and has the label “Social Networks” (which is applied to all Twitter and Facebook alert emails) it is forwarded to my personal email address, and marked with the label “¡Very Active!” in my work inbox (this is the label I use for things that need following-up urgently).
Now, this isn’t perfect, but it’s a damn sight closer than I’ve ever managed before. Tray are asking for feedback on their beta; mine is this:
- Date / Time settings need to be much more flexible. Currently this task won’t catch anything that arrives before 9am as no email could satisfy the condition of arriving before 9am and after 5.30pm on a given day.
- Wildcards in From and To email addresses. At the moment I’m using a GMail filter to push everything I need into a single label, then using the label to suck them into Tray – it would be simpler if Tray could do this all at once.
- Custom AND / OR operators. This might be tricky from a technical perspective. These, for example, would fix my time problem above because I could specify to apply the task to emails with the “Social Networks” label AND that arrive after 5.30pm OR before 9am.
- Google Drive integration! I want to save attachments in my Google Drive, not Dropbox.
- Google Maps integration! The cool kids don’t use FourSquare any more – I want Google-driven location control!