We’ve been really excited about this latest addition to Google+. Helpouts is a very shrewd move by Google in its bid to draw brands (content creators) and everyday people (content consumers) towards using Google+ – by allowing experts in their field to provide their services to anyone anywhere in the world…. And charge for it if they want to.
While video content marketing has been found to be one of the strongest, most useful means of reaching and engaging an audience, Helpouts goes even further to deliver dynamic, highly bespoke video content – and for me, this heralds a huge change in the way brands will go about content marketing from now on.
This is SEO and social media integration at its best, providing content that’s available only on Google’s own social network, which many believe has a big impact on SEO.
What exactly is Helpouts?
Launched last week, Helpouts is an extension of Google+’s unique Hangouts feature, and offers “Real help, from real people, in real time”.
Helpouts enables brands and individuals offer one-to-one tutorials/consultations over live video on Google+ – and they can charge users for their time. Google has divided Helpouts into categories, including Art & Music, Cooking, and Fashion & Beauty.
Until now, we’ve made use of Hangouts here at Branded3 to host group Q&A sessions (#B3Brunch) about topics we have real expertise in, so SEO, social media, content marketing, and web design/development. This has worked really well for us to drive engagement on our Google+ Business Page and really make a meaningful connection with our audience there, so we’re very excited about this latest update.
How does Helpouts work?
Hosts can either offer free Helpouts sessions, or they can charge a fee – if they choose to do the latter, then payments are handled through Google Wallet (in which case, Google takes a hefty 20% cut).
Sessions can be set up to enable to users to either connect instantly, request an appointment time, or select a pre-allotted timeslot. Each Helpout has its own dedicated page, wherein the host can post an introductory video and write a bit of blurb about themselves/their company and some specifics about the Helpout.
Users can choose who they get help from based on the host’s…
Currently, well-known brands such as Sephora, Weight Watchers, Redbeacon, a Home Depot company, and Rosetta Stone are using it. Take a look at what they’re offering in the way of expertise – it might give you some inspiration as to how your brands or individuals – could use this brilliant new Hangouts functionality…
How do I get started?
At the moment, if you want to host a Helpout, then you need to sign up to request an invite here (there’s a tiny link below the box you submit your invitation code to) – and even then, getting an invite isn’t guaranteed.
How big brands have been using Helpouts
Sephora is a world-class cosmetics company, and it’s using Helpouts to host make up tutorials. Sephora’s Helpouts are free, and offer up make-up tutorials. This will be a brilliant way of connecting not only with regular beauty enthusiasts, but also fashion bloggers. We’ve already seen ASOS host a Hangout takeover with a fashion blogger, so why not invite fashion bloggers with their own styles to host takeover Helpouts for a day, a week or a season, and convey their take on the brand’s products?
- This Helpout is free and has a pre-allotted time. However, it’s popular, so users can opt to join the queue or reschedule for later;
- What items the viewer will need to participate;
- This is a nice little introductory video to the Sephora brand and its series of Helpouts.
2. Weight Watchers
Weight Watchers is offering a limited but well-subscribed series of Helpouts – and not surprisingly, with the Christmas season now almost fully upon us, their Party-proof Your Weight Loss Hangout seems to have been the most popular session by far.
There’s massive scope for Weight Watchers to do a whole lot more to broaden its appeal using Helpouts – by offering advice ranging from fashion and beauty tutorials to cooking and confidence-building sessions.
I’m sure that, in time, Weight Watchers will branch out and offer Helpouts on a range of lifestyle issues, and when they do, Helpouts might just be an amazing way for potential and existing customers to really connect with the brand and quickly become fervently loyal brand advocates.
- Users have the option to connect with an expert there and then, or schedule an appointment for later;
- This is the ratings and reviews section – this will be the decider as to whether people invest time in engaging in a Helpout, especially if they’re having to pay for the privilege.
3. Rosetta Stone
Unlike the other big brands that launched Helpouts, Rosetta Stone – the world’s leading language-learning software provider – is actually using them to drive direct sales as opposed to offering free advice/tutorials, charging $30 for 30 mins.
If you’re working for or with a brand that could potentially offer Helpouts at a premium, then keep an eye on Rosetta Stone to track the popularity of its paid service.
- This is where the user can see how much the Helpout will cost, and they can choose to book an appointment for a later time/date;
- A pop-up box detailing dates and time slots (un)available.
We’re going to be watching these and other brands closely on Google+ to see how they continue to use Google+ Helpouts, whether that’s simply to connect with customers and followers on a one-to-one level and convey their expertise, or to actually drive sales through it.
Either way, Helpouts is a huge opportunity for brands and freelancers alike, especially for those who take a leap of faith and position themselves as pioneers.