This article originally appeared in the May 2014 edition of the Marketing GPS Newsletter.
The latest offering from the ever-growing suite of Google tools is Google Helpouts, and it might just help out your business.
Helpouts is built on the Google Hangouts platform, and it allows you to offer services to the public in a simple, one-to-one videochat format. Users browse the Helpouts site, seeking a “provider” to help with whatever need they have. You may offer your services for free or charge for them. Sessions can be scheduled in advance, or be available whenever the provider is online. The system has a very clean design, and the ratings and prices for each provider are easily visible.
Google Helpouts has great potential for expanding your brand’s reach. Many companies and individuals are already using this tool to introduce themselves, for free, to a vast new audience. The service is populated largely by providers of generic tutoring, troubleshooting and interactive “how-to” sessions, but there is plenty of room on Helpouts for brands to hold informational sessions or companies to provide support for their own products.
Helpouts is an easy way to introduce your products and services in a way that is helpful and not “salesy.” Of course, it’s important to make favorable impression and garner great ratings and testimonials, but if Helpouts are done correctly, as part of a larger marketing campaign, they will help build trust in your brand.
How to use Google Helpouts
Small businesses and organizations already use Google Helpouts to:
Offer expertise on specific problems, often for free or a small price
Teach or train on new information or skills
Offer low-cost tutorials on technical or complicated products
The required Google+ profile needs to be a public profile. Your Helpouts profile info will be pulled directly from your Google+ account, so make sure you are using the correct Google+ account. Most organizations will want to offer services through a company account, rather than through various employees’ accounts.
Take the time to acquire the necessary equipment and to create an appropriate setup for hosting a Helpout. Make sure your set is well-lit, the background is not distracting, and that your microphone is functional.
Finally, ensure you fully understand what a Helpout entails. What service are you providing through the Helpout? Make sure the person who will run the Helpout has all of the training and information he or she will need during the videochat. A flowchart or “FAQ” for the provider might be useful to keep the chat on track. Remember, even though Helpouts is a fairly casual forum, every videochat reflects on your organization – for better or for worse! Don’t allow inattention to details to detract from an otherwise positive portrayal of your organization.
Google’s long-term plans for Helpouts aren’t clear yet, but we wouldn’t be surprised if they end up influencing local search results. Helpouts allows you to connect with your audience and offer them valuable assistance and information, and they represent a possibility of improving your search rankings. It’s time to take advantage of this opportunity.
If you would like help implementing Helpouts or another marketing service, contact us! We’ll be glad to assess your situation and help you reach your marketing goals.