Would you rather have 100,000 Twitter followers, 95% of whom don’t RT, @mention or even acknowledge you or 2,000 who hang on your every word and identify with your tweets in a passionate way? True, in either case, your REAL fans are likely to be in the mix, and your job is to identify and cultivate them.

Don’t you feel like you’d be fooling yourself to think that simply having fans or followers is enough? How can you activate people who just don’t care? Simply following your Twitter feed or Facebook page is an awfully low entry point, wouldn’t you agree?

Your real fans are precious. Even hard-core celebrities know this, that’s why they sign autographs (psst, don’t be too cool to respond to YOUR fans).  Its why politicians shake hands and its why you should reward and acknowledge your real fans, while defining your own measure of success. Don’t use another company’s followers or fans as your success valuation, ask yourself what your goals are and how you can use the social media platform to engage your fans.

I typically tell my clients that passion trumps quantity. If your only goal in social media is to measure the followers, not only is it short sited, but it reminds me of high school popularity valuation techniques. And we ALL know that high school “popularity” is not a measure of life success. Why would you treat your brand the same way?

Ultimately, there are various levels of passion. You can use social media with other marketing techniques to find the levels of passion in particular fan. For example, I am on a mailing list for a particular political action committee. I am passionate enough about their cause to send letters and emails to my senators on behalf of their mission. However, I have yet to donate or show up in person to one of their events. I am the type of fan that you want, but who you want to grow. Other fans, those who go to meetings, donate and write their senators are the ultimate fans. I hope this particular organization is tracking how passionate everyone is, but somehow, I think not. After all, I get the same, non-targeted email as everyone else. I never get a note thanking me for the numerous letters I’ve written and asking me to show my commitment through a donation. They don’t even ask me to be their Facebook fan. So, I remain on the periphery. How many fans do YOU have that are like that?

Passion always trumps quantity. Look for ways to engage fans and increase passion through social media, rather than expect that fans materialize from your Twitter or Facebook page. Use other marketing techniques (events being one of the most engaging) to define your fans and understand them better. Use events and social media to engage, inspire and most importantly, listen.