Live video is eating the internet.

Text was king at the dawn of Google.

Then it was photos in the age of social media.

Then YouTube pioneered video on the web.

Now, it's live video.

According to a survey from Livestream.com and New York Magazine, 80% of respondents would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a blog post.

The same survey reported 82% of respondents prefer live video from a brand over social posts.

Online video, in general, is skyrocketing.

A whitepaper from Cisco says 80 percent of the web will be video-based by 2019. That's in 10 months.

And mobile users love it; 92 percent of mobile video viewers share videos with others.

You probably noticed more live videos in your Facebook news feed last year. 

Did you notice how live videos are always at the top? 

Facebook takes the liberty of notifying me every time someone is live.

Other platforms know the power of live video as well.

Twitter bought live streaming app Periscope in 2015. 

Instagram launched live Stories in 2016. YouTube released live video streaming in 2016, too.

LinkedIn is experimenting with live video right now in closed beta.

Like a swelling ocean wave, live video is flooding the web.

Why is Facebook, and all the other social networks, prioritizing live video so much?

As a marketer, content creator, communicator, or entrepreneur, you need to not only be able to answer this question for your clients and interviews, you also need to be competent in the latest mediums of communication yourself.

To answer this question, look at what the founder of Facebook himself said on April 6, 2016, when Facebook first announced Facebook Live.

 CEO Mark Zuckerberg said:

"Live is like having a TV camera in your pocket. Anyone with a phone now has the power to broadcast to anyone in the world. When you interact live, you feel connected in a more personal way. This is a big shift in how we communicate, and it's going to create new opportunities for people to come together."

Unlike regular recorded video--which is edited, scripted, scrubbed, tight, and mostly errorless--live video is raw, intimate, uncut, transparent, and authentic.

In a past interview, when I asked Adam Lisagor, founder of Sandwich Video and Silicon Valley's favorite video actor/director/producer, how to make the perfect online video, he said the key to success is authenticity. He found his truest self and put it on camera. No embellishment. No charade. It worked brilliantly.

Authenticity is the key difference with live video. You can't hide on live video. It's either real or it's not.

But, if you're like me, live video feels like going on stage in front of all your Facebook friends. That's 1,915 people for me. I've never "presented" in front of that many people before in my life. I'd prepare for months in advance before talking in front of that many people.

When I tap "Go Live", I'm suddenly thrust from the safety and comfort of my living room, couch, and sweatpants to potentially thousands of eyeballs ogling me from an arm's length distance.

This is literally me before going live:

I started vlogging last year. 

And I'm currently in the middle of recording an online course. 

One year ago, I quit my job and now every three months, I move to a new city with my wife. She's a travel nurse. We announce our next location using Facebook Live. It's the number one biggest help for finding a place to live, making friends, and finding a new community.

When I make a video and push it out online, I catch myself wondering about presentation: 

Should the video be tight, edited, sharp, and efficient? 

Or should it be unedited, vulnerable, real, and "truly me"?

An informal and personal Instagram poll

To gain some insight on this, I polled my Instagram followers (640). Despite being grossly statistically insignificant, it was still food for thought.

On Instagram, I asked: 

Which style is better for learning from online videos? 

a) Honest, authentic, uncut, transparent

b) Scripted, produced, edited, tight

The results surprised me. 

Dead even split. 50 percent to 50 percent. Twelve votes each. (Again, not Instafamous.) 

However, several friends sent me a direct message and said the question wasn't fair. You can have both, they argued. It doesn't have to be one or the other, they said.

Is this true?  

Can you be authentic, honest, and transparent in a tight, edited, and produced video? The answer is yes. Lisagor calls this a "well-written" script.

The key to a successful live video is to balance vulnerability with efficiency

The takeaway for how to best use live video is to be authentic but not to waste people's time. Balance honesty with brevity. Don't just flick on a live stream without first thinking about what value you'll be giving to your viewers. At the same time, don't architect the video to the point where your true personality is lost. 

Next time you want to do a live stream, think through or write out what you want to say or do in the video before you go live. This will help you not only avoid rambling but also steer clear of overthinking it and over-engineering. 

I'll leave you with three helpful resources that helped me:

Published on: Feb 28, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.