Google Hangouts – the group video chat feature available on Google+ – has received a series of improvements that make it even easier for you to connect with customers  face-to-face.

You can now initiate a Hangout by clicking the “hangout” button underneath a post in your stream. Doing so will add your invitation to the comments. In some cases others will have already started the Hangout and you will see their invitation in the comments – just click to join in.

The ability to have a live chat isn’t limited to your desktop computer as Google has integrated Hangouts with the Google+ Messenger mobile app. A new camera icon will appear when a Hangout is available; just tap once to start the video chat.

Google+ Messenger will be available in Android Market within a few days – Google noted that iOS support is coming soon.

A few months ago Google introduced Hangouts On Air, which enables you to broadcast a live session to a much larger audience. Currently Hangouts are limited to nine participants, but anyone can watch a public broadcast. The feature is still under development so access is limited, but the company has turned it on for hundreds of additional celebrities, public figures, and Google+ users with large followings.

To get started, just look for the “broadcast and record” option after starting a Hangout. It’s also worth noting that Hangouts On Air now integrates with YouTube, so once you’re off the air you can upload a full-length recording to your account.

Finally, Google has also added the option to have your phone ring to notify you when you’re invited to a Hangout – this way you’ll never miss an opportunity to connect with your community.

If you haven’t already, invite colleagues or some community members to a Hangout. It’s an effective way to engage with your customers, introduce a new product, or to educate someone with a demo.

[Image credit: David Burillo]