A presence on Facebook is the most part of a social strategy for most small businesses.

You’ve probably heard of Facebook before. It’s that website that they made that movie about. Beyond that, it’s a social network that 900 million people around the world use to keep in touch, access links shared by their friends and find out about new deals and offers from their favorite businesses, small or large.

That third part is most important to you. This probably isn’t the first time someone has told you about the benefits of Facebook as part of a social media marketing strategy. If you’ve resisted to this point, you’re tired of hearing about it. But you’re also letting valuable engagement opportunities with a highly convertible audience slip away.

As more users join the network and Facebook works to make its different marketing tools more effective, the impetus to integrate the site into your marketing activity grows. Nine percent of all American website traffic goes to Facebook.com, according to data from Experian Hitwise. Moreover, the average visit time of an American on Facebook is more than 20 minutes.

Needless to say, developing a strategy to make your company stand out on Facebook can help improve the presence of your small business on the web among local users and others who find your company.

Getting started on the site can seem overwhelming, but give us a few minutes. You’ll be one of the millions of American businesses using the site to drive conversions in no time.

What does Facebook mean for my company?

As we mentioned earlier, Facebook is a social network. A large collection of profiles of people, organizations and businesses designed to help connect everyone. For consumers, the central tool on Facebook is the profile. However, small businesses on the site develop fan pages, which act as a hub for all of your prospects and customers (Facebook calls them fans) to keep up with your company and interact with each other.Whether you want share some quick information in the form of a short "status update" or a link to your website, organic social content helps fans interact with your company.

On this page, small businesses list their contact information, of course. But there are so many more ways to use the network. Facebook allows SMBs to engage their audiences and amplify their following on the web.

Whether you want share some quick information in the form of a short “status update” or a link to your website, organic social content helps fans interact with your company. When a Facebook user “Likes” your page on the site, they’ll instantly start seeing all of your page’s activity when they log into the network. This collection of activity is called a “news feed,” and users see anything and everything from their friends and companies they’ve Liked in these streams.

Aside from links and short posts, SMBs can share any website content, images or other relevant content that will attract their users.

What can I share to win engagement and clicks?

SMBs using Facebook marketing have a number of options to drive more traffic to their Timelines, the new profile layout Facebook rolled out to businesses in late March.

SMBs can share organic content from their sites, which means links or status updates will be viewed by their fans and potentially direct these users back to business websites. Also, they can choose to buy ads on the social network, which can help deliver paid social content to users outside of their own network. However, ContentLEAD recently highlighted a report from GreenLight that found 75 percent of Facebook users rarely, if ever, click on paid display ads on the site.

As a result of historically limited paid content engagement, Facebook has rolled out new options for companies to better promote content that is still organic in nature. Small businesses using blog or news content marketing could find these tool especially valuable. Sponsored Stories allow ready-to-spend SMBs to insert content into a pre-determined number of fans’ news feeds. The feature essentially makes paid content resemble social content, so users are more likely to see it within their news feed.

Marin Software found that Facebook engagement has increased since it launched Sponsored Stories.

Marin Software reported that this feature, and the similar Sponsored Posts, have increased the clickthrough rate for companies on the site to 20 percent since their launch. In general, Facebook has looked to provide SMBs using the site ways to make their marketing materials seem more organic on the site.

According to PageLever, the release of Timeline has placed a major emphasis on sharing content that engages users more effectively. One such type of content SMBs can use is visual content. Whether it’s an image to go along with a shared blog post, a printable coupon or an infographic, visuals are shown to improve engagement. They can also help smaller companies establish themselves more effectively as reliable sources of information. A report from WebLiquid found that visual content offers an element of diversity that fans enjoy.

How do I know if Facebook marketing works for me?

We get this question a lot, and we’re happy when small business owners ask it. The great thing about using Facebook for social media marketing is that it comes with built-in analytics tools to help SMBs gauge the reach of their social content, monitor when fans are interacting with them and understand users’ actions when they see the content. Facebook Insights is free for any company using the site for marketing and can be a strong complement to the other tools you’re using to measure web marketing success.

On top of tracking your individual results, industry data suggests Facebook can boost businesses’ bottom lines. A study from comScore may have found the best link between organic, relevant Facebook content and improved leads and conversions for businesses. According to the research, a company using Facebook for marketing found 4 percent of fans who saw the studied company’s content on their news feeds made a purchase within four weeks. This is a nice boost compared to 3.3 percent of fans who converted without seeing any content from the company.

In general, data from comScore demonstrates the potential impact of a strong Facebook presence for companies. While not every piece of content or ad posted to the site is going to have the same impact, small businesses can help improve the reach of their companies by ensuring they have a strong presence on the social network.

Experian’s numbers show that millions of Americans are accessing the social network every day. Many of these people are your customers or prospects. They want to engage with your content, and you already know they like your business. Make it as easy as possible for them to convert with a strong Facebook presence.