Social media’s popularity is continuing to rise. In fact, LinkedIn is expected to have 500 million members by 2020. And while more and more professional services firms understand the benefits of social media, there’s a major advantage that’s often overlooked and underutilized. That advantage is social listening.

This process involves monitoring social outlets for what’s being said about your firm, services, brand, and even employees. Knowing what people are saying gives you the power to change the conversation or benefit from feedback that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to. But the advantages of social listening don’t stop there.

Here are five things social listening can help your firm do:

1. Attract New Business

Tracking what your current clients and prospects are saying about your firm is essential. It can help uncover new keywords that people might use to find your services. It could allow you to tap into the desires of a target audience you weren’t even aware existed and generate new leads from their interests. Plus, being genuine in your online interactions and joining in conversations can help your firm find out more about your prospective clients’ challenges, needs, and expectations.

Social media is one of the first places potential clients turn to research a new professional services firm. In fact, about 60% of buyers will check your firm out on social media. When you’re already engaged in social listening, you can be more prepared for these interactions and increase your chances of converting buyers’ conversations into sales.

2. Improve Client Service

Being able to monitor your business and firm brand on social media gives you access to identify what’s working and any potential issues with your services. People appreciate firms that have a voice behind the brand and provide one-on-one interaction. Through social listening, you can engage directly with those who are talking about your brand, showing that you prioritize transparency and want to build trust and personal relationships.

3. Figure Out Where Your Target Audience Spends Their Time Online

Taking the time to listen can help you identify where your target audience “hangs on” online. You might find your audiences are spending more time networking on LinkedIn than on Google+. You can see what industry conferences or online events they’re attending. And you can see what blogs or publications they’re reading.

This insight into your audience’s online behavior can help your firm market more efficiently and create a presence across the platforms they’re on.

4. Identify Influencers and Advocates

Identifying and building relationships with influencers in your industry can help give your firm access to new audiences. These influencers can help promote your content, increase your visibility, and build your firm’s trust and credibility.

Finding these influential professionals can be difficult, but social media monitoring makes the challenge more manageable. There are a number of tools out there that can identify these individuals and help you monitor and engage with them. These tools include SimplyMeasured, Topsy, Social Mention, and Google Alerts.

5. Monitor Your Industry and Competitors

Social listening makes it easier to keep up-to-date on changes and news in the industry and keep a pulse on what competitors are doing. It can even uncover new competitors that you might not be aware of.

Or if there’s a need that your services aren’t addressing, you can take that into consideration as you develop your overall business strategy. Your firm can get valuable feedback without having to actively seek it out.

Social listening is especially beneficial because the feedback is often more honest and uncensored since it is also unsolicited. Your firm can gain firsthand knowledge into what your clients and prospects are saying about your firm without having to ask. You’ll know about potential problems or emerging trends sooner so you can improve your plan moving forward. Social listening will equip your firm with the tools it needs to provide an improved client experience and market more effectively to your audiences.