Recently I was reading a blog and the person says Hi to their 4 followers and I know that I read the blog all the time but have not identified myself as a follower. So yes I am following the blog through an RSS reader but haven't click the follower icon on the system to let the individual know that I read their blog. I use "Newsblur" as my RSS reader and my husband users “old reader” for his.
What I decided to do is look at my other blog, Craftkitten, to see how many followers I have versus people that are following me. I have 10 individuals that have clicked on the follower icon on blogspot but I know that most of these individuals rarely, if ever, visit my blog. Now I looked at a stats counter that I have and noticed that I have a lot of individuals that regularly visit my blog to see what I am up to.
Yes, the individuals that regularly visit my blog are more the true followers than most of the individuals that are showing on the page. I have some people that come to my site on almost a daily basis to see if there are new posts, some check in about once a week and others follow me through an RSS reader and I can see that as well.
The other advantage of using a stats counter is that you can see how the person found your blog. I know that one of my blogs I wrote about four years ago still gets found and read. Through my stats counter I can also see if I was found through someone else linking to my blog.
So it is best not to think that only individuals that have clicked on an icon are your followers, you may have a lot of other individuals reading you. I am happy to see even one person read my blog and I thank everyone who does. Maybe you are a follower or you are following me, but I do appreciate it and I also appreciate the individuals that maybe only come to my blog once.