Social media can play a key part in Plymouth's City of Culture bid
SOCIAL media will play a key part in Plymouth's bid to be crowned City of Culture 2017, according to online experts.
Popular websites such as Twitter and Facebook have the potential to reach thousands of people in Plymouth and beyond, and the city's bid committee is embracing the possibilities of the technology.
The bid's official Twitter profile – @Plymouth2017 – has already attracted more than 370 followers, and the hashtag #Plymouth2017 is circulating among users.
More than 220 people have also "liked" the Facebook page, which can be found by searching for "Plymouth City of Culture 2017".
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Steve Clement-Large, freelance artist and social media director for Tribe magazine, said: "Social media is absolutely vital to the success of the bid.
"Derry used social media quite effectively in their campaign to demonstrate the volume of popular support from the start.
"Ed Vaizey [the Culture Minister] said himself that it's the community with the most passion that will be one of the deciding factors.
"Social media is one very different way people can show that.
"Social media is very much a grassroots thing. It's not corporate. "One thing I have said all along is we have to be positive about the bid and what it might bring for us."
Social media consultant Ash Mashhadi, founder of inplymouth, said: "To increase our chances of success, it's vital that Plymouth stands out, head and shoulders clear of other cities in the bid.
"This means making the bid as powerful as possible in every way. There is one way that we can make a difference if we want to.
"That is by being the city that is most passionately behind the bid. This means being as vocal and enthusiastic as possible.
"That may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for those who wish to support the bid, I suggest we use a platform that is both powerful and accessible to anyone with a computer or smartphone: social media.
"Social media gives us a chance to shout about Plymouth. If we are loud enough, and positive enough, we could make a real difference.
"It relies on us working together, on putting aside social and political differences to promote one clear message: we want Plymouth to be UK City of Culture in 2017."
Chris McCann, communications executive for current City of Culture Derry-Londonderry, added: "Social media was very important in our bid.
"There are a couple of audiences you are speaking to when you're bidding.
"You're looking to influence your stakeholders and investors, but also the local population and the people of your city.
"Sometimes corporate communications can seem a bit remote to the ordinary person in the street, and we found social media was a really good way of engaging with people and encouraging them to show their support and take ownership of the process.
"We created online groups and encouraged people to upload pictures showing themselves supporting the City of Culture bid. So we were crowdsourcing ideas.
"It allows you to have a very quick conversation with your audience, it's not coming through any media management.
"You get instant feedback on what you're doing and whether it's playing well with people.
"It also gives you that young audience, who can be quite difficult to engage with through traditional media."
To get involved on Twitter, follow @Plymouth2017 and @heraldnewslive, and on Facebook search for Plymouth City of Culture 2017.
To read all the latest on the Herald's campaign to back the bid, visit www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/cityofculture.