Social media is here to stay. And for many brands, that means that a social marketing strategy is not optional.

As it evolves, marketers will need to evolve how they exploit the opportunities created by social media. Here are three techniques that brands will probably need to think beyond to succeed in the coming years…

Bribes

Let’s face it: social media isn’t new anymore. In many consumer markets, most major brands have a social media presence and there’s significant competition for consumer attention.

To capture that attention, some brands resort to bribery. From giveaways to ‘retweet-this-for-a-discount‘-style promotions, the logic is obvious: if we find a way to compensate consumers for promoting us, they’ll love us even more.

Unfortunately, the returns on this marketing technique are diminishing because it’s a technique that is not only overused, but generally poorly executed too. To stand out in the crowd today, campaigns need to be thoughtful and creative.

Trying to “bribe” consumers is neither and bribes aren’t likely to generate the kind of meaningful, sustainable results that brands are seeking in the first place.

Crowdsourced products

Even before the advent of the internet and social media, the smartest companies listened to consumers, and incorporated their feedback into the product development process. Social media has, however, given companies new ways to gather feedback and democratize product development.

Not surprisingly, some companies have taken advantage of social media to put product development in the hands of consumers in ways never before imaginable.

You’ve seen the contests: help us develop a new [insert product name]! In some instances, crowdsourcing product development actually results in a decent product.

Far too often, these campaigns are little more than a marketing stunt that won’t produce new products that are worth keeping around, defeating the stated purpose.

Charity piggybacks

When tragedy strikes, there’s a very good chance that there will be vibrant discussion on Twitter and Facebook. Unfortunately, this makes tragedy a mouth-watering target for businesses with a broken moral compass. Sometimes, trying to exploit tragedy takes the form of a despicable tweet.

Other times, it takes the form of a charitable offer that isn’t structured well.

Take, for example, Microsoft’s recent offer that it would donate $1 to Japanese earthquake relief efforts for every retweet of a tweet promoting a link to a page on Microsoft’s Corporate Citizenship website — up to a paltry-by-Microsoft-standards $100,000.

For obvious reasons, Microsoft’s attempt to do good didn’t go over too well, and instead of improving its image, Microsoft has arguably damaged it.

The lesson: if you’re going to do good works, do them and by all means share them with others. But think twice about trying to tie how much you contribute to the exposure generated by a social media marketing campaign.