Seven questions to ask before you hire that Twitter expert

Every day I see people on Twitter talking about being Twitter experts hiring Twitter experts and outsourcing their valuable brand or business to Twitter experts.
So I thought it was time that I gave my opinion on a few things. Firstly and for the record I do actually believe that someone can be a Twitter expert (as we saw last year some don’t). But as I have always maintained expertise is all relative to your audience. Someone can be an expert when speaking to a bunch of new people, but very inexperienced when speaking to some old timers.

So here are 7 questions that you may want to ask that so called Twitter expert before you hire them.

1. How long have they actually been using Twitter.

This information is very easy to get hold of. Simply go to and enter their twitter name. It will tell you when they started the account. If they dont have an account, then now would be a good time to move on to someone else. Please dont tell me that someone can be an expert on Twitter and actually not have an account, I simply wont believe that.

2. Check out their Twitter account
Does it have a nice photo, a good bio and their website information? Now to me a good bio should contain the following things:- What is their expertise, how can they help you, and as much personal information as they are happy to share, remembering that people’s bio’s are searchable for keywords via
3. Take a close look at their actual tweeting
If there are no tweets, please walk away and find someone else. To me the essence of a good Twitter account is to have a balanced tweeting approach. So you should see plenty of social chit chat, plenty of sharing of good information, links and articles and finally tweets that help, educate, support and guide people to get the answers to the questions that they may have. There should also be a good amount of @replies where they are engaging with people.

If all you see is one long Twitter stream of sales messages, automated messages, no engagement, tons of retweets, then really they are not utilising Twitter very effectively, so how can they advise you on your approach?

4. Turn to Twitter search

To me the gold mine of Twitter is the search. If they have never heard of Twitter’s own search engine, please walk away.

5. Checkout the other Twitter account they look after

So after checking out their own Twitter account, I would then suggest that you ask them to look at the other Twitter accounts that they look after. Look again for a good balance of tweets, replies and so on. Remember that if you hire them to look after your brand, they will be responding to issues, concerns, problems and adding value by listening and then engaging. Are they doing that for the other Twitter accounts that they are looking after.

6. Compare the followers to following numbers.

It is dead easy to play the auto follow, auto unfollow game and build up what may appear to be a healthy number of each. This really can be a false and meaningless situation. What you should look out for are those accounts that have vastly more followers than they are following. This to me is really key. Any account that has vastly more followers than they are following, must be adding value, and be a great resource otherwise why would peeps keep following?

7. Metrics, metrics, metrics

Finally ask about what metrics they will put in place to measure how things are going. If they tell you that adding followers is a top metric, please walk away. Whilst adding followers is a sign that you are doing good things, it can be manipulated to give a meaningless output of success. Metrics that I would suggest include website traffic, actual sales, actual newsletter sign ups and so on.

You have probably spent ages building up your brand product or service. Dont be tempted or fooled into allowing a so called Twitter expert to ruin all that good work. If you are going to hire someone treat that appointment with the same strict caution as anyone else that you may take on. Ask for references, testimonials, look at their Twitter activites, how they utilise the platform, successes that they have had and so on. There are lots of top people on Twitter, but be warned there are lots of sharks that will happily take your money as well.

Oh and finally ask them what the 5 types of Tweets are, if they dont know its time to walk away.

@MarkShaw is an award winning ex sales guy that advises and trains businesses, and individuals on how to utilise Twitter to gain more business & to be effective with their time.  He is the author of the book Twitter Your Business & has been on radio, published in the media and given talks all throughout the UK in his capacity as a Twitter expert.

  • Maddy

    So….what are the 5 type of tweets? (i’m not an expert!).

  • Mark Shaw

    Hiya Maddy.. the 5 types of tweets are…

    1. the tweet
    2. the @reply
    3. the @mention
    4. the RT
    5. the dm

    thanks mark

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  • Lisa Devaney

    Increasingly I get clients asking me for Twitter, and social media general counsel. I didn’t hunt down this work,but was noticed in social media for being there and using the medium with success. So now, I offer the best counsel I possibly can toward the medium, and keep up with the industry via reading expert’s advice on blog posts like yours, attending conferences and improving my own usage.

    I was hired by a client recently who told me all the other candidates they looked at had no Twitter or social media presence. I found this strange, and it looks like from your post that it happens a lot.

    How can you not practice what you preach in this medium?


  • Mark Shaw

    Heh Lisa.. sadly so many so called experts dont practice what they preach…the tell clients to do 1 thing when they do the complete opposite…


  • Kat

    Hi Mark – really interesting post, thanks! Particularly intrigued by whendidyoujointwitter, but I’ve tried it on Firefox and IE with multiple usernames and it’s not working. Maybe a bug on my computer, but shame if it’s no longer working.

  • Mark Lee

    Really excellent advice here from someone who clearly knows what they are talking about. I will be referencing this for others to read too.
    Thanks Mark

  • Mark Shaw

    Thanka Mark for your comments…


  • Samuel Bateman

    “What you should look out for are those accounts that have vastly more followers than they are following.”

    I really don’t think this is correct, if you follow 500 people and have 500 followers that does not make you less credible than someone following 10 people with 500 followers

  • Romany Thresher

    Mark sadly no matter how much you try and convince people its about quality and not quantity people are always wowed by numbers. Bizarre really.

    Then I’m also amazed how businesses are quick to use the pop up services with no websites, no active Twitter accounts and no digital footprint. Either they are lazy and don’t do a search or they don’t care about who manages their social media.

  • shitchef

    creative writing is also an important factor

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  • neil a scott

    Hello why could you be needed to twitter when you have a twitter account anyhow

  • neil a scott

    Ray mallon criminal mayor of middlesbrough cleveland england,as a police chief he abused
    Children by giving them drugs for informati
    Ion,to further his political career,with h
    elp from mp’s like sir ian duncan smithmp
    Sir stuart bell mp,kumar mp,anyhow,after
    He admitted 14 out of 420 crimes against the vulnerable he stood for mayor with the hekp of the asain communities and boro taxis,for
    A majority vote taxi monopoly of cleveland
    With taxis everywhere in cleveland and bought cheap land on a new redevelopment site.mallon had the area sewn up for his vebndetter against me neil scott,23arrests over 9 years and one conviction,persecution harassment intimidation or abuse of power given to mallon in the forn
    Rm of pilot schemes hekped by this england
    Government ring me fir full history

  • neil a scott

    As ray mallon stands down as mayor of @MBROcouncil finds another child abuser to fill
    His shoes in the next election in
    Middlesbrough cleveland

  • Cathy Presland

    Hi Mark – good article.

    I think I’d add to ask whether they are going to train you or one of your staff or whether they just want to do auto-tweets for you. I see a lot of people offering these services – and it can be great to outsource – but twitter is really all about getting to know the face behind the biz.

    Thanks :)


  • Elizabeth

    I have a question for a twitter expert that is reading this. Can you put people into lists without following them and without them receiving a notification? I see a lot of tools out there that supposedly let you know if you are put in a list–is that just for public ones? Please help twitter expert!!

  • neil scott

    Neil scott arrested and convicted on hearsay evidence of police who stated Neil scotts blood was found at a burglary on 21march09,the witnesses brought into court proceedings against Neil scott stated that his blood was NOT found it was taken by the same witnesses in the case at a police station,48 hours after the crime and 4d miles away from the crime scene and JUDGE MOSES knew this when he stopped NEil Scotts appeal at the royal courts of justice London,which shows interference with the course of justice treason and perjury by the judges involved in the cover up of misconduct by cleveland police officer under a criminal mayor Ray Mallon,