Google Helpouts: Small Biz Boon?

By Janet Fouts | Small Business

Google Helpouts: Small Biz Boon? image Screen Shot 2013 11 06 at 8.47.28 AMGoogle Helpouts: Small Biz Boon?

We are big fans of the Google Hangout around here. I frequently do hangouts to meet with clients and potential clients, and I co-host a weekly hangout on-air called The Friday Hangout with Steve Farnsworth and Adam Helweh featuring industry leaders in digital marketing and we have a pretty good following.

Now Google’s introduced a new program called “Helpouts”. The idea is to do a hangout with someone else to help them solve a problem or learn a skill. Examples on the Google website include learning to play guitar, navigate a software application, or cook, but the opportunities are endless.

What’s the big deal?

On the face of it not much. Anybody can do this with a Hangout now, and several other services like Clarity offer advice from industry professionals at reasonable rates already. Google’s taking this concept, combining it with video and adding the option to pay for advice and “Get the Helpouts money back guarantee by allowing recordings for quality assurance purposes.”. Google will refund your money and they’ve built in a dispute resolution program similar to Paypal’s as well.

Google will also help you manage your schedule, creating reminders, calendar events and allowing you to view upcoming and past Helpouts. Another way to tie you into Google’s calendar app, but hey, it’s a pretty good app!

Small business opportunities abound here for the savvy business person and initially Google is qualifying vendors so we aren’t going to be immediately inundated with scams. All good. I think it’s going to be great for businesses who want to reach a braoder audience and can work effectively with screen-sharing and video.

Now for the exceptions
Google restricts the use of the service to “safe” topics and to protect minors etc. here are those guidelines.

  • Customers must be 18 or older to participate
  • Health providers must link to their certificates or licenses and proof of insurance if required by law
  • Be compliant with the requirements if HIPPA
  • Comply with industry standards for your field
  • No promotion or sale of alcohol or illegal substances including mixology or wine tasting
  • Promotion of financial or legal services is not allowed
  • Like Google Ads there are standards you need to comply with in your listing as well. Learn more about editorial standards here.

Is it going to take off?
It wouldn’t be the first timeGoogle kited a project and it fell on it’s face. Think Wave. And many think it’s going to be big, including GigaOm, who thinks it could be Google’s secret weapon to healthcare. One of the early providers, Take Lessons, tells us how it’s working for them here and they already have a custom domain name with their music lesson Helpouts.

How do I play?
Currently the product is in beta. You can apply for an invitation here, or if you already have one, click here to start creating your listing.

Did you get an invite yet? Tried Google Helpouts? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

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