Putting yourself in a YouTube video, is it worth the fuss?

I have done close to 40 videos on YouTube and I have heard on several occasions that I should put a video of myself down in the lower right corner of my demonstrations. I have mixed feelings about this. One, I think having my face in the video and seeing me speak may be good to ‘connect’ with my viewers but I can’t get passed the space it takes on the screen. The real-estate is hard to deal with already and I kind of feel having me on the screen would just be a kind of narcissism. I have watched many videos and the kinds of videos I create don’t normally have a live feed of the presenter; however, there are some exceptions. I have somewhat modeled my videos after Khan Academy, although I am nowhere near as good as him, he saves the real-estate for the content. So I think content is key with this kind of video. There is also the presentation of myself. I would have to actually “look good”, maybe record in a different room (one without a ceiling fan). Possibly get an actual camera versus the laptop camera. etc, etc.

What do you think? Would this be a good thing or a wasted effort?


Killer App for iPhone: Group Text!

I am finding more and more I have to use group texting from my iPhone. I have a group of friends, a softball team to coach and a pretty big family. All of these “lists” have to be created manually and since many of my recipients phones don’t support group messaging the “list” gets lost and I have to recreate it. The iPhone also does not let you add people to the message once the original message is sent. I really think this should just be a feature on the iPhone, maybe it will some day.

On to my point, the application “Group Text” is a killer application for me now. It is literally saving me time on a daily basis. I can manage multiple lists, add, delete, etc and even do some things I have not ventured into yet like inserts. You can check out their site to get a list of all the features included.

So why did pick this application over the dozens of other group text applications? Well, it had the most ratings along with the highest ratings. I read a lot of the reviews and I was sold within minutes. Especially after reading the many reviews on the other applications.



Using Campaigns and Coremetrics to drive sales on your web site

In this video I show how you can use campaigns in WebSphere Commerce to track content and product sales in your website. Campaigns allow you to tag things like web activities with the campaign ID and then pull reports about the performance of that web activity on your site. Web activities in WebSphere Commerce are scheduled content for your site. In this video I use a web activity to promote four products on the home page of our store. I also use a promotion for all furniture (a 20% discount) and the discount is visible in the web activity under each product.

Campaigns are great for pulling together content on the site and have it reported under a single entity. Use campaigns for seasons, holidays or promotional specials.

Quick Tip Video: Getting The XPath In Google Chrome

In this video I show how easy it is to get the xPath from Google Chrome. You can use the xPath when processing the DOM tree in your code. I use the javax.xml.xpath in Java to process DOM tree; the API is very powerful and easy to use.

Official contributor on The Smarter Commerce Blog

Smarter Commerce Blog! Ok, maybe it was not as grueling as I am stating. I want to thank the Smarter Commerce Blog editors for giving me a chance to contribute on their blog, hopefully I live up to the quality that has already been going on over there.

This morning, in lieu of the Facebook IPO, I posted my first blog entry entitled “Using Social to grow your customer base”. While Facebook and all of the big social networks play a big role in your online presence there are still a lot of things you need to do as a retailer to make sure your site provides for a solid community. I outline a few things in that post I think are very important and show a couple of use case examples of sites that are getting it right.

Why your blog isn’t getting enough hits, top 8 tips!

I just read this blog post “7 Secrets to Effective Corporate Blogging” and I think this is also a great list for the regular bloggers like myself. As a matter of fact I guess I am doing their last tip right now by “stealing their idea” and adding to it, plus one more tip! I have been blogging for just over six years and I have seen a lot of hits on some posts and not nearly as many hits on other posts that I thought would be good reads. I have learned a lot over the years in this space and hopefully some of this information will be useful to other bloggers or newbies.

The biggest success in my opinion for any blog is the consistency of the content in the blog. This blog pretty much focuses on software development in many areas, collaboration, social, commerce, programming, administration, etc. basically whatever I do in my own time and my professional time around those areas. Over the years I have gained readers and lost readers.  I am definitely not an authority or generate 10,000 hits a day, or even a thousand hits a day in most cases; I do think I get enough readers to at least talk about what I think works.

So on to my “keys to success”, first and foremost get followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other site you have presence on. This will give you an opportunity to post your blog posts there. Many may find it annoying but many also look at those social networks to get news versus using a feed reader or visiting blogs individually.

Tip 1 – I find that scheduling posts between 4am and 5am Eastern Standard time is the best for me because I have many readers in Europe. Having your blog software automatically Tweet or share the post at that time is also a good idea. You want to promote your post URL between 8am and 10am in the different time zones. Studies have shown this is when most people read news on the internet.

Tip 2 – SEO can not be underestimated! Getting your post URL on the different social networks and then getting people to reply, like, Tweet or whatever will raise your SEO score on the search sites. A good example on my site are these two posts, they each get about 5-10 hits per day and a few are years old, the Eclipse preferences one was actually posted in 2007!

Tip 3 – Blog titles, very important. This particular post might get a lot of hits just for the title alone. The content may or may not work but hey, at least the title drove something. Many bloggers use “shock” titles to get a lot of hits but then the blog itself loses credibility over time.

Tip 4 – Stay consistent to your blogs purpose. Whether you blog about software or pickles make sure you stick to those guns. I use to post a lot of personal information in the beginning and found many liked it for the occasional read but it really didn’t build my readership. When I really focused on my specialty I started gaining hits.

Tip 5 – Use images and videos! Nothing makes a point like a picture or video. I may not be the most descriptive person with words so many times I just use a video or picture to help out. It also makes the blog itself a little more flashy. I may actually use too many pictures and videos…

Tip 6 – Your blogging software and the tools to effectively promote, attract, and publish your posts. It’s no secret I use WordPress as my blogging software. I used three different blogging software for this blog and eventually settled on WordPress. I feel the administration, the plugins, the templates, the community and the quality of the code is unparalleled in the free blogging software world. You can probably find “better” software but you will most likely have to pay for it or have it hosted.

Tip 7 – Promote, Promote, Promote. You have to have social presence and you have to promote your blog. Those Tweets, comments, mentions, likes, etc all work in your favor and could gain new readers. Use hash tags in Twitter so your post shows up in searches and other peoples lists. This is how you will gain new followers and readers.

Tip 8  – Comments are key. I actually lack in this space a lot. I don’t get a lot of comments on my blog because maybe I mostly post FYI or education like material. The better blogs out there actually get engagement from their community. I am always trying to get people to comment here but what I am finding now is most people comment on the social sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. So thank you to all who comment on this blog!

Partner Spotlight: Trifecta

I had the pleasure of working with the folks from Trifecta in a recent customer engagement and I am happy to report they are an excellent partner. They really know their commerce. Having several key members of the company come from the IBM lab who built WebSphere Commerce is a much added bonus. These guys know the product in and out and their work clearly shows their leadership in this space. You can see some of their craft with the sites below (Burt’s Bees, Wacoal, and Tandus Flooring). They usually start their engagements showing off current customers and their “Store-In-A-Box” which is an excellent starter store (a reusable asset to get a company up and running very quickly with WebSphere Commerce). You can learn more about that on their site here.

Trifecta also just launched the mobile site for Bon-Ton, check out this screen shot:

Here are some of the great sites the company has done built on WebSphere Commerce: