Google recently made it easier to expand your reach and connect with customers worldwide through Google+ Hangouts On Air.

Unlike typical video chats, Hangouts On Air enables you to broadcast a live session to a much larger audience; current Google+ Hangouts are limited to 10 participants.

For brands, this is an opportunity to interact with customers beyond text and photos and easily populate your YouTube Channel with fresh content. Creating a Hangout On Air is very easy. Let’s take a look at how you can get started.

Prepare Your YouTube Account

In order to enable Hangouts On Air, you’ll need to verify your YouTube account; a recording of your on air session will be uploaded to YouTube. By verifying your account, you’re able to upload videos longer than 15 minutes in length.

This is an easy one-time process that can be done through a mobile SMS. Just submit your phone number and type the code you receive into the verification box. After you re-check your account, you should be good to go. Those of you with private YouTube accounts will need to make them visible to the public in order to use Hangouts On Air.

Set Up Your Hangout

If you’ve ever created a Google+ Hangout before, then this process will seem familiar. However, if you haven’t, we’ll walk you through the steps.

First, you’ll need to log in to your Google+ account — if you don’t have one, you’ll have to create one. Once you’re logged in, click the “Start a Hangout” button near the top right corner of your screen. A new window will open with options about your Hangout.

If you want to broadcast your video chat, click “Enable Hangouts On Air” below the box where you name your Hangout. If it’s your first time, you’ll be asked to agree to the Google+ Hangouts On Air terms and the YouTube terms. It’s important to remember that your broadcasted session will appear on both your Google+ and YouTube accounts.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Before launching your Hangout we recommend that you test your mic and camera — there’s nothing worse than running into technical difficulties mid-chat. Toward the bottom of the window you’ll see yourself on camera. Try moving around a bit to make sure your connection doesn’t freeze up. When you start talking, a green bar should extend just below your image. If it doesn’t, check to make sure you haven’t muted yourself.

Once you click “Hang out,” your video chat will start, but it won’t be recording or broadcasting yet. After everyone is settled, click the “Start Broadcast” button in the top right corner. You’ll receive one last reminder that you’re about to broadcast live to the public. Hit “okay” and after a 10-second countdown the title at the top will switch to “On Air.” You’ll be able to see the number of live viewers along the top.

When the live broadcast is over, a recording will automatically replace the live player so individuals that missed the Hangout can still view it. You’ll also have the option of editing your video using YouTube’s Video Editor.

Hangouts On Air aren’t meant for every occasion. If you’re looking for a personal way to connect with a small group of customers, we recommend using standard Hangouts. If you’re interested in interacting with a larger audience, then Hangouts On Air might be better suited for your needs.

[Image credit: Katie Lips]