UPDATED: Almost any article about social media that you read will focus on “likes”, “fans” and “friends”. At first glance, “social” media appears to have equated positive relationship terminology with relationship.

But when you look at the motivation behind “liking” a brand on Facebook – it’s decidedly transactional. There is a focus on discount and promotion, exclusive content and so on. Now, while a strategy addressing these desires will build your “fan base”, I’m increasingly sceptical that it will build you anything more than a glorified mailing list. In fact, researcher Dan Zarella has shown "The amount of 'conversation' that happens on your Facebook posts has nothing to do with the number of people who will see it" – suggesting Facebook Conversations Don't Achieve The Marketing Boost You Desire.

For those brands that want a little more from the investment they are making in social media, you need to dig a little deeper.  You need to look for those whose pupils dilate at the mention of your name.

It’s time to ditch your fans and find your lovers.

This is no easy task. You need to listen. Monitor. Pay attention. Dig. Analyse. Engage. Converse. Respond. And measure. You need to rinse and repeat. What I call continuous digital strategy.

But thanks to Sean Howard, you can now follow a step-by-step guide to using social media monitoring to find the people who already love your brand. The approach uses live data to help you truly understand who your real brand advocates are – and as is almost always the case (as is shown in the Nikon case study) – your most powerful advocates are rarely those with high klout scores or large follower bases. They are the people who consistently generate content and comment around your brand properties and digital assets.

I know this will make you cry – we all love the large numbers and the occasional mention from a social media superstar. But if you want to build lasting social media value for your digital properties, it’s time to ditch your addiction to “fans” – because when it comes to social media, it’s all about the love. Baby.