It has been thoroughly documented and intensively researched that the effects of social media marketing show that one of the most effective social media marketing strategies to increase sales and customer loyalty, is by generating customer participation – getting the input and engagement of potential clients in your campaigns.

There are many examples of successful use of this – from Audi’s #Untaggable campaign to have you engaged using the hashtag on social media; to Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign, throughout which the company produced Coke bottles with customers’ names on the labels and handed them out throughout different cities, in order to increase its exposure and engagement on social media via user generated content. Customers were then asked to share the pictures of their personalized coke bottle on Twitter and other social media platforms.

Coca-Cola first launched the campaign in Australia in 2011, but expanded it to the United States, United Kingdom, and other regions across the world. The company attributes the campaign to a 2% increase in U.S. sales after over a decade of declining revenues – but getting it right can be tricky.

Below are 4 social media marketing strategies proven to engage followers in your campaign

4 Simple Social Media Marketing Strategies to Increase Engagement
4 Simple Social Media Marketing Strategies to Increase Engagement

Everyone loves a good competition. Contests are one of the mainstays of brand promotion. They’ve been around almost as long as consumerism. And although the days of clipping entries out of magazines are long over, they still provide a great source of publicity and future revenue.

All the more so, since it can be so easy! There’s nothing more simple than filling your email address into a Facebook form. Users love this – no hassle, something-for-nothing opportunity.

An important caveat to keep in mind is that the prize should not be arbitrary. Rather than giving away an iPad, give away your product or a service that relates to your brand. The opportunity of winning actually increases the participant’s desire to own the product, and the winners will feel an increased loyalty to whatever it is that you’ve given them.

But there are more effective, if more involved, types of social media contests…

4 Simple Social Media Marketing Strategies to Increase Engagement
4 Simple Social Media Marketing Strategies to Increase Engagement

Even better than receiving a prize, is having your means of expression appreciated and used by the company. This method, too, has been used for decades – think back to competitions to design the new logo for big brands – and services like Instagram are perfect for this format. Offer to feature followers’ images on your website, or simply to give shout outs on their social media pages. Tons of companies are doing this, and are reaping the rewards. Customer loyalty is increased, leading to current and future sales.

Most of the time, what you have to say is not what matters. Your followers are far more likely to appreciate their own point of view being shared than that of your PR manager. A great way to facilitate this is to start discussions, where you propose a question and let your followers battle it out in the comments, with minimal participation on your side.

There are two types of discussions which may come in handy:

Ask customers what they’d like to see your company doing. Even if you have no intention or capability of putting their suggestions to work, they’ll appreciate the chance you’ve given them to have their say and may get themselves excited at the possibilities.

4 Simple Social Media Marketing Strategies to Increase Engagement
4 Simple Social Media Marketing Strategies to Increase Engagement

Start a discussion about a topic that is trending in social media, the news, or even politics. Be careful with this. Try to ensure it has something to do with your brand and it doesn’t come across as click-baiting. Also, don’t use a topic that is overly contentious. Mentioning the Israel-Palestine conflict may generate loads of responses, but you’re inviting negativity, hatred, and possible accusations of bias onto your page – it’s a can of worms you don’t want to open.

Earlier, we mentioned Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign – one example of a successful use of customer participation.

Nothing tangible. Just a quick, fun, interaction. Use similar experiences, quizzes and games to engage your followers.

Everyone appreciates a simple distraction from the drudgery of the work day, and this makes it one of the most successful social media marketing strategies, for example: get the customers to post a photo holding your product on social media, tagged with your brand or a friend or even a brand #hashtag in exchange for a discount or for the possibility of getting in a prize draw to win your product…

4 Simple Social Media Marketing Strategies to Increase Engagement
4 Simple Social Media Marketing Strategies to Increase Engagement