Video is now a required tactic in any successful social media campaign. The cool part is that video is more than just a well-produced, scripted and polished product. With the rise of Vine, Instagram video, Meerkat and Periscope, video can be spontaneous, interactive and immersive.

While developing a social media program, one of the first questions should be “how will we use video?” The use of video is not a new concept, but the way that we use it has evolved. While in the past, entire campaigns might have been planned around a talking head video, today’s programs spontaneously flood social networks with quick videos on the fly. They are an effective way to reach and engage with an audience, increase time spent on websites and offer an opportunity to humanize a brand.

But, how did this instantaneous broadcasting rise to power?

The recent surge of live streaming services is not the harbinger of using video in social media. Vine and Instagram video have been a mainstay for years and before that the initial generation of live-streaming services flourished.

The first to appear in the latest wave of on-demand live streaming was Meerkat. However, services like uStream, Qik, and Kyte were early players in this space, but mainstream adoption lacked. What made Meerkat unique was its instantaneous adoption. Right time, right place, right app—and it quickly touched off the ability to broadcast live like never before.

Services such as Snapchat had introduced “stories,” which enabled users to compile a series of snaps, and Vine existed, but Meerkat was different. Quickly starting a live stream of video from your mobile device, while interacting with viewers in real time was important and incredibly cool. As users experimented with Meerkat, some of the savvier marketing professionals began to explore how to use it to broadcast sales, product lines and even the crafting process.

Periscope screenshot

Periscope’s simple UI and real-time interaction with viewers makes it a great fit for social media programs.

Soon after Meerkat sprang up on the scene, Twitter announced it had purchased Periscope, which is another live-streaming service. Both services have quickly grown with millions of people and brands broadcasting in real-time. There’s pros and cons to both, but they are both great at instantly connecting you to your customers.

A little camera shy. We need to get you over that. Being comfortable with the big screen is now mandatory.

Here are four quick tips to help integrate video into your social media program today:

  • Jump in and try it. Sounds trite, but if you are managing social media for an established brand, simply jumping on to a new platform can result in a tremendous boost in brand engagement.
  • Write a script, rehearse it, then throw it away. Embrace your natural voice, your natural way of speaking and your natural passion for the topic at hand whenever the camera is pointed at you. People will remember the impression you make, not the third messaging point in your prep materials.
  • Be ready for sharing. Make sure you have the ability to share the video broadly. This will expand the reach you can have with your videos and also expand the audiences you can reach.
  • Cut once measure twice. Analytics are a crucial part of any social media program. Adding a new medium to the ecosystem means having something new to measure. Make sure you have a grasp of YouTube analytics, what hearts on Periscope mean or that you have your tracking codes configured properly.