Visual content rules the internet and digital communication.

GiFs and Emojis trump LoLs and OMGs. Instagram just announced the introduction of expanded 30 second ads. Tweets with images receive 18 percent more clicks, 89 percent more favourites, and 150 percent more retweets.

What is driving the rise in popularity?

Cost is one factor. Mobile phone cameras and video apps are making it possible for pretty much anyone to capture moments and share them.

The network being able to support content is another. Nobody wants to suffer from the buffering blues, and with operators rushing to get a piece of the mobile entertainment market, consumers have been able to enjoy up- and download speeds that support viewing and sharing of visual content.

But the basis for the visual explosion is biological. Our brains are wired to take in and read images. 90 percent of the information transmitted to the brain is in fact visual, and processed 60,000 times faster than text. Now that cost and technology barriers have been removed the fastest and most effective way for individuals to digest information isn’t necessarily text-based.

From a communications standpoint the take away is simple. Visuals, whether video, infographics or pictures are incredibly effective when it comes to cutting through the mountain of information we are bombarded with on a daily basis.

A study by the Educational Technology Research and Development Journal, found that the understanding of information jumped from 70 to 95 percent with the introduction of images. And not surprising, websites as well as social media posts with images receive more page visits and engagement than those without.

Yet according to a PR Newswire survey, less than 5 percent of overall PR budgets are devoted to visual content.

Sure, visual storytelling has been around for a long time, but as the appetite for images increases marketers need to step up and master the discipline.

Need a New Year's resolution? As 2016 kicks off don’t forget to think about how appropriate visuals can help get your key messages across.

By Helena Zarchan, PR consultant, Burson-Marsteller, @ninazarchan