By Claire Prentice
It is the 21st century equivalent of word of mouth.
From mom and pop diners to cupcake shops to technology start-ups, small business owners across America have been thrown an unexpected lifeline in the midst of the recession by social networking sites.
Companies that have jumped on the Twitter and Facebook bandwagon are reporting a surge in customers while others struggle. With minimal marketing budgets available to many small businesses, social networking sites offer a quick and, more importantly, free means of promoting their wares to a global audience. In the face of stiff competition and a global economic downturn, it is a route more and more companies are going down.