The web has become a great resource for people looking for instructions on "How to" do just about anything. I've learned how to charge a car battery without electrocuting myself, how to use Photoshop, and how to write basic HTML code among many other things.
How-to videos are the second most popular type of online video content, with 56% of adults online watching the instructional clips, according to a recent Pew Internet and American Life Project survey.
Google recognized that many users were searching for help and has now launched a new marketplace of live video-based help services. Called Helpouts, the new service will be offering how to instructions on health care, guitar playing, cooking, fashion, exercise and more.
People seeking instructions sign up and schedule an appointment or get an instant session. In addition to the website, there is an Helpouts Android app. People must have a Google+ account to sign up.
The company's biggest competitor in the video-help category is itself. YouTube, owned by Google, is filled with how-to videos for a wide variety of subjects. There are videos for tech support, self-improvement, learning new skills and changing a light bulb.
But some problems and lessons need more than a one-sided demonstration. There is a benefit of having a live video feed and back and forth conversation with the person teaching. The experts can spot issues with their own eyes and bring up questions that clients would never have thought to ask.
Helpouts allows people to use their Web cams or mobile phones to show service providers what they are doing and get live feedback in a video-conferencing session.
Google's Helpouts service uses Google+ for login, Google Wallet for payments and Google Hangouts to provide the video interactions.
Helpouts allows people to sign up for services by the minute or by the job, with varying prices. Google takes 20% of the transaction and the service provider takes the rest.
Google is screening people and companies that want to offer their services through Helpouts. Users review will help control the quality of providers.
Anyone who is a teacher or expert on a topic can trade their services for payment, either by the task, by the minute or for a set window of time.
People who want to share their expertise for free could also go to Helpouts. This may become a whole new new way to volunteer. It could also benefit people in remote areas who either want to make money for their skills or learn things not offered near their homes.
People shopping for services can check out prices, ratings, reviews and qualifications for tasks. Google offers a money back guarantee on the services. Payment is handled by Google Wallet, and all the prices are set by the experts offing the Helpouts.
Marketers are exploring ways to use the new service to connect with potential customers and enhance their inbound marketing. Sephora has free makeup advice from its own staff of experts who will tell you how to put on the perfect red lip. Making its Helpouts free is smart marketing for Sephora, which can suggest its own products during the video sessions. Other companies signed up include Rosetta Stone, Weight Watchers and One Medical.
What new skill do you want to learn? Google's Helpouts probably has an expert for that.