The power of social media and local “influencers” such as bloggers, continues to guide purchasing research and buying decisions. Research from McKinsey has found that word of mouth is the main factor propping up 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.

One important way brands and local businesses can become a part of this word of mouth conversation is by working with local influencers. By partnering with bloggers, compelling and relevant content is created that is then shared with readers. Content aspirations can be simple or geared toward a large enterprise marketing campaign.

A good influencer strategy takes time and a personal approach (unless you choose to work with an influencer marketplace. In that case, see #3, below.) Keep in mind that most successful bloggers with more than a few thousand followers have been approached by brands and businesses before. Many will have pricing options for participating; others only accept products that they will in turn give away to readers. Some bloggers will recommend products and services that they adore and they refuse samples or giveaways. For instance, before John and Sherry Petersik ended their popular home improvement blog, Young House Love, their policy for accepting products was clear: they simply didn’t.

For local businesses, here are two ways to jump into the influencer world. Of course, you’ll also want to track the results of your campaign, whether it’s likes, followers, conversions or impressions.

1. Figure out who you want to meet.

Make a list of the popular local bloggers in your area for your industry. Check out blogrolls (or the listings of the blogs that bloggers follow. You can often find the blogroll in the sidebar.) Search hashtags for your city on Twitter to discover new voices. Reach out to your social media followers and ask them what blogs they read.

Once you have a short list of perhaps 10-30 blogs, check out how the bloggers like to be contacted. Many bloggers will post their policies in no-nonsense language. For example, a book blogger may state they will only review books they enjoy; or that a positive review is not a given.

This brings up a good point: be prepared that not every local blogger will love or enjoy your product. Be ready for some tough love, although we’ve found that many bloggers won’t slam a product they dislike; they simply won’t mention it at all.

2. Reach out to influencers personally.

This is one time a mass email will not do. Now that you have your blogger list, take time to research each blog and make a note of a recent post that is interesting, funny or sparked a response from readers.

Craft individual emails using your research and make the ask: would the blogger consider being a part of your business’s next campaign for “mom-bloggers” or “fashion bloggers” or “insert-your-target-audience-here-bloggers”? With a line or two, try to explain how you hope the blogger can connect her audience and your product.

Ideas include:

Depending on your time frame, you might have a blast inviting a few bloggers into the office and brainstorming content strategies for the campaign.

3. Use an influencer marketplace.

For enterprise brands, an influencer marketplace is your first stop. Platforms such as TapInfluence connect large brands with popular bloggers. Pricing, payments, expectations of the blogger, ROI tracking and more are included for sophisticated marketing strategies at the enterprise level.

Do you connect with local bloggers? Tell us your story in the comments. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Alex is Connectivity’s VP of Marketing.