TAKE a visitor on a tour of Salisbury and the sights are well-known. The Cathedral. The Market Square. St Thomas’s and its Doom Painting. The Haunch and its hand. The Great Hall in the Boston Tea Party where Shakespeare wrote Hamlet or something.

If your guest is feeling energetic, perhaps a walk up Old Sarum, or even a visit to Salisbury Plain and that timeless sight of a circle of unmoving objects in the mist. And when you’ve got past the Countess Roundabout on the A303, you can go and have a look at Stonehenge.

But there is a second Salisbury these days and one that can be accessed anywhere around the world. Since their respective launches in 2004 and 2006, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become part of the fabric of many people’s daily lives.

I’m ashamed to say that such is my propensity to check my feeds that I even pay money for a programme that blocks my computer from accessing them, allowing me to get on with what I’m really meant to be doing, such as writing a late column for a newspaper (www.freedom.to if anyone is interested).

The way people use social media has developed well beyond just posting pictures of what they had for breakfast or funny clips about cats. Facebook these days is home to an ever-widening selection of local interest groups: active and lively and full of people interested in their city.

So a public page such as Fisherton History Society is a treasure trove of old photos and titbits about the Salisbury, where any queries about the past can be answered by a hive-mind of local historians.

Or Spotted Salisbury is a fascinating snapshot of city life – anonymous posts on anything from missing cats to bad drivers, often shot through with a healthy dose of local humour.

Over on Twitter, every Wednesday night at 8pm there is a thriving weekly Salisburyhour (#salisburyhour), an opportunity for local businesses and residents to share their services, what they’re up to, and just chat to each other.

And if humour is more your thing, there is the brilliantly tongue-in-cheek @firsdownlife account, ‘Salisbury’s #1 lifestyle guide’, tweeting away from ‘Wiltshire’s bungalow capital’.

Each of these groups and pages have their own particular interest. But pull them together and you create a whole digital community, a Salisbury of a different sort to the one that you see on the tourist trail.

It’s a Salisbury made up of everyone who lives here, giving a true sense of the city across the age groups.

And what comes across is a population that is at turns smart, colourful, caring, funny and, above all, full of life.