Recently I was approached by a client who had a peculiar problem – their Twitter network simply refused to grow beyond a certain point.

Each time they hit this level, users would begin to unfollow them, and they’d drop back fairly quickly, losing as many as 10 per cent of their followers over a couple of days. The process would then repeat itself.

It didn’t make a lot of sense. So, I had a look at their stream, and spotted the problem almost immediately.

There was almost zero engagement.

While they were making updates and replying when approached (which was rare), they weren’t initiating any conversations themselves. Nor were they retweeting the content of others. I realised pretty quickly that it was fairly obvious they weren’t actually reading this content, either.

So, I spent a little time writing an analysis that explained why all of these things were vital, and listed a series of bullet points that showed how the client could easily turn this around and hurdle that follower ceiling.

The response? “Thanks, but I don’t have time to do that.”

The key word in social networking is social. Without it, the entire ‘networking’ part is redundant. You cannot do the latter without the former. Unless you’re actively reading the updates of others, retweeting where warranted, replying and offering assistance, and doing the little things that let them know you’re paying attention, why would you expect them to do these things for you?

It takes a little work, sure, but it’s not a 24/7 job. You can do all of this in less than 30 minutes per day. Make a habit of Twitter. Let it be the first port you call when you have news to share or want to find out what’s happening in the world. And while you’re there, put a finger on the pulse of your network. What’s happening? What can you do to help?

I’m busy, you’re busy, everybody is busy. You don’t have the time? Find it. Because otherwise you’re sunk.