Plymouth daily launches social networking site

The Herald in Plymouth has launched its own social networking site - after reaching its limit of 5,000 friends on Facebook.

The iHerald pages at www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/iherald allow users to join, set up a profile, make friends, chat, upload video, images, audio and blogs and rate each other's contributions.

Thisisplymouth and Herald web editor Neil Shaw said: "The response has been great, with 200 members joining in our first month to upload more than 1,000 items including pictures, videos and blogs.

"The recent snow storm saw users uploading pictures of themselves playing in the snow, or incredible wintery scenes. They became an army of photographers and reporters sending in images we couldn't get to – either because there was too much ground to cover or because the roads were blocked.

"Our users have really taken to iHerald with a flourish, the quality of images uploaded even before the storms was incredible.

"The level of debate is also very high quality, with users discussing everything from current affairs in Plymouth to the chances of Argyle being relegated, from the philosophy of Mirbeau to the policies of Gordon Brown.

"We aren't quite up to the levels of Facebook yet, but users love the opportunity to network on a site which has a Plymouth focus – it has attracted users from across the city as well as ex-pats as far away as Canada and Thailand."

The site also provided pictures of a seal trapped in illegal netting taken by a diver in Plymouth Sound, which led to a full page story in The Herald, and a debate on the site has prompted two stories in print about the future of the last warship to be built in the city – HMS Plymouth.

Shaw said: "The site goes to the heart of our online strategy, not lazily duplicating our print product online, but interacting with our users so thisisplymouth and The Herald combine user-generated content with live input from our audience. It is a constant dialogue differentiated from and contributing to our print offering."

The Northcliffe daily claimed to have more than three million page impressions on its website in January.

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