Product placement can be an incredibly effective way to familiarize consumers with your brand — but when it comes to incorporating it into a social media sales push, you need to tread carefully.

Your target audience on social media is opinionated and not afraid to share their impressions. You want to work with them and respect their viewpoints rather than try to tell them what they should think of what you have to sell.

Need some fresh ideas on how to accomplish this? Research has your back. Try these outside-the-box strategies to showcase your products and win big approval on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter:

Use TV to gain heat on social media.

A study from researchers Beth Fossen and David Schweidel via Emory University finds that product placement on a television program increases online engagement in terms of conversations on social media, and online web traffic.

Two caveats: First, your product needs to fit within the vibe of any TV program you target so it doesn't appear like a blatant sales pitch. Second, a verbal mention of the product — like an actor talking about it in the context of a scene — is more effective than having, say, your can of soda visible on a table.

Don't focus on positive reviews.

Researcher Ram Bezawada and a team from the University of Buffalo reported that when it comes to social media marketing, a product that receives neutral or even negative consumer mentions discussed in a post with a lot of likes can be more beneficial in terms of sales than a post that contains a positive mention but gets no likes at all.

You want people to be spreading the word that your product is out there. Then, consumers will be spurred to try it for themselves and form their own opinions.

Utilize empowered consumers in a smart way.

Empowered consumers — meaning those who companies incorporate into the development of a new product — should never be additionally targeted regarding a specific product they have prior knowledge of on social media by your company.

According to a study from the University of Calgary and the University of Texas at Arlington, some empowered consumers will rebel against any tries by a company to influence them. Respect and utilize their opinions, but don't try to change them.

Be conscious of how social media users protect their reputations.

Let's say you know a particular group of Facebook users will often hesitate to recommend new products because they worry people will criticize their opinions.

How do you counter this? In regions you have identified through market research as being sparse in terms of mentions of your brand, use as much product placement advertising on social media as you can. That way, many people become interested in trying it at once, and individual members of that consumer group will feel there's "safety in numbers" when it comes to raving about it.

Survey continually.

Keep taking your online audience's temperature through monthly social media surveys. Ask them if they want to know and see more about your product, and tailor your content accordingly.

Showing your social media demographic that you respect their input and want to work with their wants and needs is a winning strategy — and your product sales will soar!