In January 2015, Facebook will be making significant changes to the way its news feed works. These changes are designed to discourage overly promotional posts. So how do you avoid being penalized by Facebook? Here are some do’s and don’ts to navigate the changing waters:

Don’t: Use overly pushy or sales-y language in your posts. Cut back on words such as “buy,” “comment,” “like,” “share,” “download,” “click here” and “purchase” in your posts.

Do: Continue linking to quality content, but use more specific calls to action. Try using phrases such as “don’t miss our new whitepaper <link>” or “find more resources here.”

 

Don’t: Use a bait-and-switch technique to drive people to a sales landing page. Have you ever seen an intriguing picture in a company’s post, only to click on it and be directed to a completely different page? This is exactly the type of misdirection Facebook is trying to eliminate.

Do: Drive traffic to your blog posts, useful resources on your website and landing pages. But make sure you’re honest about the content when writing catchy headlines and teasers.

 

Don’t: Push people to join contests or sweepstakes. This includes click-baiting for page “likes.” This type of post will eventually decrease your page’s reach.

Do: Keep your updates interesting. Ask questions or create posts relevant to timely or trending events. If you want to promote a contest or sweepstake, do so on a landing page and not directly via Facebook.

 

Don’t: Post text-only status updates on your page. Facebook notices when you post this type of content, and because it typically does not receive high engagement, your page could be penalized. Facebook could decide to decrease the number of followers who see your posts.

Do: Publish the type of post users seem to prefer more than others (e.g., photo, video or status update). Hint: Go to Facebook Insights to see what type of content receives the highest engagement from your fans.

The success of your digital marketing is largely dependent on your brand’s ability to create and share content your target audience will find interesting, valuable or helpful. Now, more than ever, it’s important to ask yourself “Will my fans find this interesting and valuable?”

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Amy McIlwain is a professional speaker on social media and President of Financial Social Media, an online marketing firm specializing in the financial industry. She can be reached through her website www.financialsocialmedia.com and on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.