According to Press Gazette, over 200 people have joined since the early January launch.
IHerald allows users to share video, audio and photos, create profiles, write blogs, as well as take part in message board discussions, take part in chat and join groups.
KickApps was used to create the platform.
The front page provides a neat summary of all content created in various parts of the site.
On Andy Dickinson's blog, web editor Neil Shaw responds to his points.
The Plymouth Herald also makes good use of other forms of social media, with a neat graphic allowing people to follow them on Youtube, Myspace, bebo, Twitter, Facebook and by mobile, email or RSS feed.
Facebook has allowed us to take our content direct to a new audience who are genuinely interested in us and Plymouth news, and it has allowed those users to contact us with information (just today we were tipped off about a large number of job cuts in the city, while yesterday we were sent tributes to a young mum who died in the city over Facebook). But while it has raised the profile and altered the image of our brand among a key audience (damn, must have been spending too much time with the marketing team) it can’t really provided the interaction we want, or the UGC*.
And this is the point: having your own social networking site one can customise and adapt as oppose to using a already exisiting social networking site built for a wider audience that has limitations (e.g. 5,000 person limit).
The Plymouth Herald's excellent approach to the rise of social media should be studied by other media, in particular fellow local newspapers.
People are visiting the site to interact and upload their own content, which could be used by Plymouth Herald journalists as the starting point for a news story.
And when people visit the site to interact, many will also read the content of the paper itself online.
Newspaper as community portal. The future.