Many local businesses are struggling to survive in this tough economy.But some forward-thinking entrepreneurs have figured out how to use the web to drum up some serious business…for free!Amy Erickson has the story.”Everyone else was doing it and I had to keep up, essentially.”When Brett Slater first logged on to the social networks Facebook and Twitter, he had no idea how they could help his business. “I can live and maintain a lifestyle in Bangor Maine and I can still compete nationally, regionally and globally with a lot of guys who do what I do.”Slater’s company creates content for TV, radio and the web.Like others, he’s realized social networking is a great way to advertise your business for free.”If you’ve got a special at your store, you can tell people in the local community and who are following you about the specials at your store.”Kelly Cotiaux is a partner with Sephone Internet Solutions.She encourages all her clients to put their businesses on sites like Facebook and Twitter.She says it’s the easiest way to get your message out to huge numbers of people…and it doesn’t cost a penny.”Right now with the economy, this is a good time…if you somebody isn’t walking through your store, think of these ways to market yourself.””Facebook is exploding.” “The biggest growth is between 35 and 60 right now.””And that’s your customer! That’s the people that are out buying your products, learning about you and it’s a great way to do it, without feeling like someone’s in their face giving them a sales pitch.”Social networking has helped Paul Hilchey-Chandler bring in sales to Central Maine Wireless in Bangor.This past weekend, he let folks know about a special promotion.”I was posting that on my facebook status updates and putting out tweets on twitter.””Come in now, because it’s going to save you $30. And did it work? It worked!”Slater encourages other entrepreneurs to jump aboard the social networking train.”Without social networks, I’m limited to as far as I can drive in a day. But now, I have a home office, home studio, and I have a window to, essentially, the entire world, to do my business.”You can follow WABI TV5 on Twitter by clicking here.Amy Erickson, WABI TV5 News, Bangor.