A while ago, I started tweeting. Somewhat late to the game … by Silicon Valley standards … but way early by the standards of the rest of the normal, sentient world.

I wrestled my company’s URL — twitter.com/photobucket from some URL squatter (thanks to the kindly people at Twitter) and started poking around.

First, I simply searched for Photobucket. Wow. Lots of tweets. Then I searched for photo sharing. Then I searched for various competitors, and big brands to see what people were doing and saying. I reviewed the sites of my competitors, and of brands I admire, to see how they were handling their Twitter presence.

In the first two weeks I learned a ton. I started to get a feel for the language and environment. I started shyly following people. Hey, they started following me! It felt a little bit like opt-in stalking.

I started tweeting … pointing to news about Photobucket, blog posts, or fun images that we found on the site. But it was all one way.

Feeling emboldened, I started to answer questions or respond to specific users who mentioned Photobucket. And not just those that said “*&^% Photobucket” — one or two did for whatever reason — but also those that said “I love Photobucket” or “Sitting here tweeting and uploading hundreds of pics to Photobucket.” How did I respond? With a simple “Photobucket here. Thanks for using Photobucket! Let us know if we can help with anything.”

Response? So far universally positive. “Hey, I just got a tweet from Photobucket. How cool.” Or, “No I didn’t really mean that, it’s all ok. Thanks for the help!”

Having got a bit of a feel for the world, I drafted a delightful member of our customer service group to tag-team me. He answers the technical support questions. I answer the “F Photobucket” or “I Love Photobucket” comments. Every day I look at the list of searches and @messages.

Worthwhile. Really worthwhile. Jump in. Find out what people are saying about your brand. Learn the language, and get tweeting. Even if you only have 300 followers, you’ll still learn something.