How can Sales Engineers make effective use of Social Media?

We get it! Social media helps you connect to many more people than email, meetings, conferences and other forms of contact.  Why does it sometimes seem that you are just shouting out into the storm though?  How can you get more effective use of social media, to support your role as a Sales Engineer?
Finally - how do you measure the value of your social media work?

Have an identity!

Know what you are posting about! First thing you should do, on each platform, is write your first post on a theme or mentioning a post, press release or other information from your company or a topic you want to post about.
Make sure your posts focus around your  topic or topics.  Your followers (when you have some) will want to know what kind of information they get from you.

Write your profile to match this expectation.  Use #hashtags to be clear about topics and be more easily found.  If relevant mention your employers account and any other related accounts.

Make a number of posts, even without many followers, because new followers want to see some activity on your account before wanting to follow you.

Get a following!

Getting people to follow you is not hard. Look for people posting similar things to what you want to post. Follow them - most people tend to follow back - especially after you have a few posts on your own.   

Also - interact with other people.  If you see a post that inspires a response, don't be afraid to respond to the post on the social media, and get into a thread to discuss or ask questions.  You'll be surprised by how this helps you connect to people and get real value from the conversation.

Make your posts support your other activities (and vice versa)

It is easy to just retweet other peoples articles, post some corporate images, or repeat the company message.  However what lifts your posts up to the next level is making them about you and your personal efforts in the business.  When you are presenting at a public event - make sure you post about it before, after, and sometimes during!  If you want a lot of coverage, one shot mightn't be enough, tell people early to book for the event, remind them a week or so out, and tell them on the day.

When you're developing a new demo, or working on a new product offering, let people know, so they can ask you to come and show it to their team.  You can be a source of leads - a place prospects can go to see something new.

If there are new ideas, or disruptive forces in your market, post about it, get your opinion out there and see what kind of discussion you get.

How to see the value you are getting?

When you walk into a real life meeting, and people already know and respect you from your blogging or social media posts, you are already a step closer to being a trusted adviser.  

Analyzing the value of your social media presence is very easy.  Twitter has analytics to show you the kind of interaction you get.  LinkedIn tells you how many views you get.  Keep track of people who've followed you recently, from your company, customers and even competitors.

As the size and quality of your network increases, and the quality of your posts goes up, you'll see a big impact into how it affects your day to day job.

Social media can help extend your range, give you the ability to interact with prospects, customers and experts you never thought you could, and help lift your game up to the next level.