The latest initiative from Google is Helpouts; a service which incorporates a number of existing functions, including Google Plus Hangouts, Google Vice Chat and Google Wallet amongst others. A number of the services provided by Helpouts are available free of charge, whilst others are available for a fixed fee. In Google’s words Helpouts provide users with the opportunity to “use your knowledge to teach others.”
In order to get involved with Helpouts click here. Then access the link “Request a code” which can be found in the small print at the bottom right hand corner of the image. Upon clicking on this, users request an invite code. After clicking the link, users are redirected to a new page. On this page, users are asked which topic or area they intend to teach or train in. Currently, the feature is in its infancy so there is only a limited selection of areas. These areas include:
• Arts and Music
• Computers and Electronics
• Education and Careers
• Fashion and Beauty
• Fitness and Nutrition
Due to the limitations of these topics it is fair to say that currently the feature isn’t suited to the requirements of a Business to Business company.
A video of the services offered by the Google Helpouts feature and the types of training available can be viewed by clicking here. Once a category has been selected, users are then directed to a page containing the following message, “If you haven’t received an invitation but are interested in Helpouts, tell us. We’ll let you know when we’re accepting more applications to give help.” In the meantime, users who receive this message are able to create a Profile. The details included in the profile include:
• the title and a description of the service provided,
• whether the service will be free or available for a charge and if so how much,
• additional information required includes the user’s basic credentials, education and a short synopsis of their background.
Once an invite code is received users are invited to arrange a one to one interview with a Helpouts consultant. The consultant provides the user with a review of their application, whilst providing advice on how the user can improve their listing. The interview is conducted through a live video feed which utilises audio connection via Google Voice.
One of the most disappointing aspects of Google Helpouts is that it forbids the use of products which are seen as competitors to Google’s products. This means that there will be no Helpout tutorials for LinkedIn, Twitter, WordPress and even Microsoft Office. This is disappointing as Helpouts could have provided an online forum where detailed training and problem solving for web tools and social media tools could be provided to small businesses.
Although currently limited, the concept of Helpouts is good. It provides a forum where users are able to receive training via the internet using audio and video on a number of topics, in instalments for a fixed fee. Google is not the first company to offer this service. A number of other platforms exist such as Udemy; however they lack the technological edge that Google possesses. Helpouts provides individuals and companies who offer services such as cooking tips and technological insights with an excellent means of gaining revenue and recognition. However, for companies which are business to business focused, the service is not yet suited to their requirements.