Thought Provoking Discussion with A Twitter Follower Regarding Free Publicity vs Paid Content

A Twitter follower -lets call her H, since I don’t want to drag her into a blog entry/discussion without her permission, who publishes a very nice website, contacted me today raising interesting issues. She also tagged another user, L, in the tweets, so I guess they had some discussions amongst themselves prior to contacting me. (And H & L, if you contact me I’ll be happy to put in your Twitter handles and links to your website, if you want). This is an interesting and complex issue and I am genuinely curious as to how others feel about this.

The genesis of this is that when people would follow @recifoto on Twitter, my daughter who is helping with social media, or I, would write a thank you tweet, inviting the follower to download Recifoto, post one or more of their recipes, and link to their website or blog in the title. This all, of course, has to be done in 140 characters or less.

Here are a few of the numerous thank you’s that were sent, minus the users’ handles:

TFTF! Share that pine nut/beet root/frisee salad recipe on our app Looks delicious!

TFTF! Share that Sriracha recipe on our app and link to your website in the title. Free publicity!

TFTF! Please post some of your healthy recipes to our app and you can link to your website in the title.

These are examples of what prompted H to write, in 140 character bursts – minus the @ tags:

if you want good content from bloggers than pay them

free publicity does not pay bills

how are you stopping people uploading stolen content?

Her tweets were consecutive.  I was cooking dinner (filet mignon seasoned with Paul Prudhomme’s Meat Magic for my son, and grilled shrimp with a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, fresh rosemary, and salt, corn on the cob, and steamed cauliflower; my wife cooked tofu for my daughter).

When I was not tending to the food, I wrote the following responses:

not asking for newly generated content. If folks want to post their existing recipes and link it’s available

my app does not pay the bills either. Trying to generate a community of the willing

in terms and conditions people agree to not post stolen material. Happy to remove content in violation

not trying to be evil.

Then, a little later,

H, you raise interesting points. What type of content would you care to produce and at what cost?  Thanks for downloading app.

Since H is in the UK, I assume she went to bed before seeing my responses. I’m in New York, so there’s a significant time difference. I do look forward to her response, and am interested in hearing from others, either posted to @recifoto on Twitter or in the comments of this site.

H has copyright language on her website and a section about sponsored content. So, I respect that she wants to protect her material, and also have an opportunity to make some money from the substantial, thoughtful work she puts into her site.

On the other hand, she has links so that visitors can post links from her site a half a dozen ways. You can subscribe via e mail, post to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube. Surely, there is no remuneration to her when people post those links.  She’s looking to generate interest in her site by having people disseminate links to it.

I’m not asking anyone to generate original content. I think I’m giving users an opportunity to generate traffic to their own sites by posting a link in the recipe title. Is what I’m doing so much different than asking someone to Re Tweet or post something to Pinterest, etc. If there were a ReciFoto button, that people could use on their blogs, like the Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook button, would it be different at all? Let me know if you think I’m doing something wrong.  I see it as good manners married to internet/social media marketing. Is it just crude, crass, and/or bad manners?  I’m a 52 year neophyte and I don’t know if what I have been doing is just wrong or acceptable, or some nebulous gray area. Obviously I thought it was acceptable, but H thinks otherwise, it seems.  I’m not sending out millions of e mail spam, but is what I am doing the one on one Twitter equivalent?

There’s no doubt the internet can be a little like the wild west, which is perhaps one of its underlying charms.  If you see something you like, you can propagate its dissemination in any number of ways. Where is the line between it being kosher, being annoying, and being an out and out bad actor?

Is my thank you tweet self-serving? To some extent, it is. Is there much about Twitter that isn’t? Not really. Most of us on the internet and social media are not trying to get a mosquito net to every baby in Africa, or provide safe drinking water to everyone on the planet. I don’t think that my interest in seeing people voluntarily participate in a community that I am trying to create, and possibly one day make money, makes me a crook. I don’t think that H thinks I am really doing anything wrong either. From my point of view, I’ve invested money and time in an idea, seen it carried out, have had a bunch of people opt in to download it and voluntarily add content. I’ve paid 100% of the development costs, infrastructure costs and advertising. If enough people buy into the idea and I make money, hooray for me.

So, please feel free to weigh in on this if you like. Tweet @recifoto, comment on this site (and as long as you’re not trying to sell counterfeit AirJordans or Louboutins or Cialis, you can even have a weblink), or email me at

I’m proud of Recifoto, and think it has a lot of great features. Getting the word out about it is as much of a challenge as creating it. I am keeping an open mind about the best ways to do that.