Chakras: Get to Know Your 7 Sacred Energy Centers

Many spiritual and cultural beliefs systems believe that energy flows through your spine to the seven chakra centers starting at the base of your spine and reaching up to the crown of your head. These chakras are our life-force energy, if they are blocked, the energy will slow down and manifest in negative ways. These blockages can affect our overall well-being, illness (body) disrupted thought process (mind) reactions based on emotion (emotion) and a disconnect from our spiritual path (spirit).

The 7 Chackras

To find balance and reach peak optimum health, you can work to unblock and open up your energy centers. First, we’ll start with your body’s foundation, the Root chakra.

THE ROOT/MULADHARA (I AM) – This chakra is your foundation where you get your grounding force and it’s located at the base of your spine. Its color is red, stimulating yet slow on the spectrum scale, a down to earth color while at the same time a color that represents passion, anger, and love. Its relation to the body is survival, sexuality, and security. The good/bad effects it has on one’s well-being are:

Body: adrenal glands that spark “flight or fight” survival mode, eating disorders, inflammations, low/high energy
Mind: focus, concentration, goal-setting, prioritize, pessimism
Spirit: love, passion, stubbornness, disconnect from self
Emotions: anger, excitement, anxiety, resentment, determination, love

If you’re feeling resentment, depression or fatigue, it may be your root chakra. To heal or unblock your root chakra, you can meditate, practice yoga, ground yourself in nature by taking a walk and eat red foods.

THE SACRAL/SWADHISTHANA (I FEEL) – This chakra is the color of strength and vitality and it’s located in the pelvic area. Its color is orange and its powerful energy is both physical and spiritual. Its relation to the body is the reproductive cycles. The good/bad effects to one’s well-being are:

Body: sexual dysfunction, reproductive disorders, lower back pain, menstrual issues, sensual pleasure, vitality, urinary issues
Mind: independence, creativity, poor/healthy boundaries
Spirit: manifestation, relationships, wisdom
Emotions: joy, obsessiveness, dependency, nurturing, excessive emotions, optimism

If you’re experiencing sacral blockage, it’s important to find ways to lift your mood. If you’re over committing yourself, take a step back and give yourself more free time to pursue the things you enjoy most. Eat orange foods, wear or buy something in this vibrant color and practice self-expression.

THE SOLAR PLEXUS/MANIPURA (I DO) – Its color is yellow, the location is at your solar plexus, just above your navel. This bright color says action and personal power; it also can try to outshine others. Its relation to the body is the digestive system and metabolism. The good/bad effects to one’s well-being are:

Body: digestive disorders, chronic fatigue, healthy eating habits, physical strength, healthy/unhealthy liver, pancreas, and gall bladder, diabetes, ulcers, colon diseases
Mind: mental courage, intellect, confusion, competitive, cynicism, reason, casting blame
Spirit: self-love, empowerment, egotistical, inability of learning from mistakes, fearlessness
Emotions: selfishness, confidence, sense of humor, temper-control, shame, guilt, kindness

If you’re feeling blocked in your solar plexus, your self-esteem may suffer, either by feeling inadequate or arrogant. You may also experience depression. To help you get back on track, you can set goals and take action to achieve them to regain your self-confidence back. To deflate your ego, try meditation and practice humility. Take a look at your diet and make healthy choices.

THE HEART/ ANAHATA (I LOVE) – This chakra is green or pink (we have a lower Heart Chakra, whose color is green, and a higher Heart Chakra, whose color is pink) and is located in the chest. Its energy is one of love, calmness and compassion for others. Its relation to the body is the immune system. The good/bad effects to one’s well-being are:

Body: strong/weak heart, back, neck, shoulder pain, lung issues, healthy/unhealthy immune system, strong muscles
Mind: social, critical, perfectionism, hope, hate, envy, jealousy, generosity
Spirit: forgiveness, letting go, trust, compassion, unconditional love, peace, altruistic, grief, loneliness
Emotions: love, empathetic, co-dependent, aloof, healthy relationships, narcissistic, critical

If you are suffering from a hearth break or grief of loss, use aroma therapy, lavender is said to soothe a heartache. Buy a rose quartz and place it where you will see it daily. Next forgive and let go. Eat your greens and incorporate green into your wardrobe. Nurture your other relationships, visit old friends and family, even just writing a letter or email will help you reconnect and balance your heart chakra.

THE THROAT/VISHUDDHI (I SPEAK) – This chakra is the color blue, pure and healing. It’s located in the throat. Its relation to the body is communication and expression, it’s important to speak honestly, and with kindness. The good/bad effects it has on one’s well-being are:

Body: a pleasant voice, hyper thyroid, dental health, hearing issues, body toxicity, neck pain or stiffness
Mind: clear communication, tone deaf, great listener, abstract thinking, personal expression, addiction
Spirit: faith, honesty, deep self connection, blocked creativity, deceit, self-responsibility
Emotions: peace, calmness, shy, gossiping, open, friendly, verbal abuse, yelling

Throat chakra blockage may manifest with physical ailments like a soar throat that followed verbal disagreement or if you’ve been dishonest, gossiping or holding back from speaking your inner-truth. To rebalance this chakra you can sing, read poetry aloud, do something creative like write, draw or expressive dance. Express your ideas openly. Drink herbal teas, wear blue or lapis jewelry.

THE THIRD EYE/BROW/AJNA (I SEE) – This chakra is the color of indigo and deep change. This wisdom chakra is said to be where your higher self-expresses itself. Its location is the center of the forehead and linked to the pineal gland. Its relation to the body is the brain, eyes and nose. The good/bad effects it has on one’s well-being are:

Body: headaches, good/bad vision, nasal infections, allergies, thyroid issues
Mind: good/poor memory, imagination, mental strength & agility, insensitive, hallucination
Spirit: deep wisdom & seeing, clairvoyance, cynic, lack of faith in spirituality, flighty
Emotions: nightmares, intuitive, peaceful, denial, obsessions, arrogance, perceptive

This may be the most common blocked chakra due to society’s view on The Mystic. Most of us are taught not to trust our intuition, but go with facts or what can be seen with the eye and proven on paper. We may have frequent headaches if this chakra is blocked. To open your third eye and unblock this chakra, do some visualization mediation and open your mind to undiscovered possibilities. Nurture your creative imagination and daydream like a child again. Eat dark chocolate, dark fruits and veggies, wear indigo.

THE CROWN/SAHASRARA (I UNDERSTAND) – This final chakra is violet or white, located at the top of the head. This spirit chakra is our connection to the spiritual realm and energy from the cosmos. Its relation to the body is the cerebral cortex and the skull. The good/bad effects it has on one’s well-being are:

Body: brain tumor, coma, sharp mind, headaches located at the top of one’s head, cognitive skills, excellent well-being, holistic health
Mind: greed, controlling, dominating, introspective, lack of purpose, self-awareness
Spirit: devotion, ethics, humanitarianism, divinity, inspirational outlook on life, magnetism, spiritual fragmentation, lack of understanding in deeper truths, connected to a higher spiritual plane
Emotions: psychosis, apathy, awareness, emotionally balanced, grounded

If we are disconnected from a spiritual level and only concerned with the material world, we need to reconnect and open up this chakra. It should also be said before opening this chakra, to work on the other six first, from the base chakra and up. If our lower chakras are blocked, we won’t be able to open up our crown. To unblock this chakra we can practice a prayer/meditation, make a gratitude list, be active in a cause that will help ease the pain and suffering of our fellow man. Think beyond the material world and open yourself up to higher spiritual path.

Meditation and Myers Briggs Personality Type

Meditation has its benefits – it slows down breathing, quiets the mind which allows for our blood pressure to lower, helps our racing mind to be still and relaxes tense muscles. The problem is most think within the meditation box, that it’s one-size-fits-all. This mistaken identity can frustrate new comers who have been recommended to try meditation, maybe for health reasons. The first time they sit on the mat and try to clear their mind of thoughts, their mind becomes flooded with thoughts, every stress and mundane thought that brought them to the mat in the first place invades their mind. Every time they try to clear their mind, it just fills back up and they end up quitting with the belief they’ve failed. But the reality is, there’s more than one way to meditate.

We are all different and if you use the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) to find your personality preference, you can chose a meditation practice to better suit your needs without getting frustrated and giving up before you even truly start. If you’re as honest with yourself as possible, you can find your personality type easily. First you need to know the basics. The acronyms seem like codes, but their initials, E,I,S,N,T,F,J & P stand for the following:

mbti personality type

 
(E) extravertion: outgoing, active, sociable
(I) introvertion: introspective, solitude, smaller group of friends
(S) sensing: practical, realistic
(N) intuition: relies on intuition, sensitive to patterns
(T) thinking: logic minded, judges with facts
(F) feeling: empathetic, slow to judge or act
(J) judging: structured, does not adapt to change well
(P) perceiving: open minded, flexible

 
 
As for the 16 personality types here is a short description of each to help you find what best describes your personality traits. There are basic tests you can take online, but if you take the test with a qualified practitioner you will not only find your type with higher accuracy but will gain a richer understanding of MBTI, what it means for you as an individual and how you should be operate in a group environment, understanding why people are the way they are and what makes them tick.

ISTJ – Practical, realistic, responsible, quite, serious, likes things organized and orderly at work and in the home. They value loyalty, respect laws of the land and traditions.

ISFJ – Committed, quiet, friendly, conscientious, responsible, loyal, honors commitments. Thoughtful to other’s feelings and needs, values harmony in all their environments. Enjoys nurturing others, great listener.

INFJ – Protective, caring, people-curious, community-minded, materialistic, and decisive. Holds firm values, does not handle conflict well, high-expectation of self, self-drive to meet goals.

INTJ – Original, goal-driven, creative, goal orientated, looks for patterns, skeptical, independent, holds self and others to high standards. Has difficulty communicating ideas, enjoys solitude.

ISTP – Flexible, analytic, quite observer, values efficiency, active, scientific-minded, good at organizing facts and figures. Adventurous and energetic spirit gets board easily.

ISFP – Sensitive, quiet, friendly but reserved, creative and artistic, loyal to relationships and committed to personal values. Dislikes conflicts, respects personal opinions of others.

INFP – Curious, seeks opportunities, service-minded, caring, puts ideas into action, empathetic but reserved emotionally, adaptable, flexible as long as personal values are un-compromised. Likes to help people reach their goals.

INTP – Enjoys abstract ideas, can be seen as anti-social, quiet, flexible, adaptable, greater ability to focus, skeptical, critical, analytical. Emotionally reserved, seeks possibilities and opportunities.

ESTP – Outgoing, straight-forward, enthusiastic, take-action person, hard-working, practical, observant, problem-solver, spontaneous and lives in the moment. Enjoys the company of others, style and material comfort.

ESFP – Has strong people skills, tends to be a peace keeper, caring, sensible, outgoing, friendly, works well with others. Strong observer, uses common sense in the workplace and is realistic.

ENFP – Warm, imaginative, optimistic, needs reaffirmation, supportive, flexible, great improvisors, likes to motivate others, has trouble focusing on projects and seeing them through.

ENTP – Quick-minded, alert, out-spoken, dislikes routine, reads people well, tries new things often, adventurous, strategic, analytic, resourceful, visionary, creative problem solver.

ESTJ – Practical, realistic, quick and decisive, great at organizing people and projects, very sociable, enjoys social events and networking, thrives on order and continuity.

ESFJ – Warm, energetic, cooperative, seeks harmony at work and home, works well with others, loyal, honors commitments, appreciates punctuality and expects it. Likes to volunteer for community-improvement projects.

ENFJ – Responsible, warm, kind, empathetic, picks up on other’s emotional needs which makes them charming, social, can lead large groups, takes criticism well, can inspire and motivate others.

ENTJ – Upfront and straight-forward, natural leader, very sociable, communicates well, confident, goal-driven, determined and self-motivated, likes to stay informed, enjoys teaching others.

 
Here is a list of differing meditations to try out based on your individual MBTI type. There is however no reason why all of these couldn’t work for all MBTI profiles – try them all if you wish.

Mindfulness meditation: This is the most commonly known meditation. By being present, allow whatever thoughts occur to rise then detach. Be aware of your breath patterns, deep breaths mean you’re slowing down and relaxing, shallow breaths means you’re tensing up. This quieting of the mind by letting thoughts come and go and being more of an observer will naturally allow the meditator to let go of any invading thoughts, the goals is not to empty the mind but to notice and let go. This is ideal for ISTJ, ISFJ, ISFP and INFJ.

Spiritual meditation: This is a good solution for those that are facing a problem and need a higher power for guidance to work through it. You can practice this anywhere quiet, just sit still, form your problem into a query and listen for your higher powers guidance. This meditation would be good for the types ESTP, ENTJ, ESFP and ESFJ.

Zazen meditation: This meditation is more traditional and takes disciple to practice due to long periods of stillness in one position. Its focus is on holding position, focusing on breath and being discipled to stay present with a clear mind for long periods of time. It is perfect for those that are unafraid of self-study and reflection. Types such as INTP, INFP, ISTP and ENFJ may find the challenge appealing.

Mantra meditation: Is simply repeating a word or words while meditating. You can look to tradition and use Om or bring your own like love or joy. Chanting helps keep the meditator focused and cuts down on distraction for deeper meditation practice. Types INTJ, ISTP and ISFP would benefit most from this style.

Movement meditation: For those that find it difficult to sit still and do nothing or be silent. To gain the multiple benefits of meditation, one doesn’t have to sit and be still. You can still clear your mind, slow your thoughts and let go of stress by slowing down your movements, and listening to relaxing music. Yoga, Qi gong, walking, are movement meditations. For example, in yoga, you can chose to meditate on one thing while you are going through the poses, like peace of mind. You can also take a nature walk, and mindfully let go of any stress-full thoughts. Some will even practice this while doing chores, it’s just a matter of being present. ENTJ, ESTJ, ENTP and ENFP personalities will find this exercise may suit them best.

Emotional Guidance Scales: How to Deliberately Feel Better

Do you desire to:
• Reach your true destiny?
• Achieve ultimate happiness and enlightenment?
• Get in touch with your true self?

You can achieve all this and more by gaining a better understanding of the human behavior with the help of different scales that have been discovered and described by various scientists. The three most popular scales for better understanding of the human behavior, and to improve the self, are:

• “Map of Consciousness/Enlightenment Scale” by David R. Hawkins
• “Emotional Scale” by Abraham Hicks
• “Tone-Scale” by Ron Hubbard




The “Map of Consciousness” or the “Enlightenment Scale” by David R. Hawkins

Dr. David R. Hawkins designed a Map of Consciousness that explains different levels of human consciousness. This map can be used as a scale to reach higher levels of enlightenment with the help of Kinesiology, the science of testing muscle responses based on various stimuli.

According to Hawkins theory, a weaker mental state leads to a weaker body and thus, a lack of tension and strength in the muscles. Whereas, a mind that is calm and in control will be able to function in a better way, leading to a stronger body and muscular structure. The science of Kinesiology has been tested and proven, and using it with Hawkins’ Map of Consciousness can help you in determining your own level of consciousness and awareness within your body.

Using various positive and negative stimuli, you can gain responses from your body and determine your own level of consciousness. Once you are aware of your level, you can aim to achieve a higher level of consciousness by introducing other positive stimuli in your life and surroundings – always fill you life with people, events and thoughts that calibrate higher than where you are. Hawkins’ research revealed that 85% of the world population are below 200 energy level points, so below the level of courage.

The map of consciousness states the following levels on the Enlightenment Scale:

Enlightenment 700-1000 (this is the highest level of human consciousness)
Peace 600
Joy 540
Love 500
Reason 400
Acceptance 350
Willingness 310
Neutrality 250
Courage 200 (this is the level of empowerment, where you are aware that you are in charge of your own growth and success



Below 200 (below the critical level of integrity):

Pride 175
Anger 150
Desire 125
Fear 100
Grief 75
Apathy 50
Guilt 30 (associated with remorse, self recrimination, suicidal or worthlessness thoughts)
Shame 20 (associated with brutality, paranoia, bizarre crimes or sexual abuse)
Death 0 (this is the lowest energy level)




The “Emotional Scale” by Abraham-Hicks

On a daily basis, we experience a number of emotions from happiness to sadness, from anger to forgiveness, and so on. Abraham-Hicks has organized and arranged these emotions based on a scale, ranging them from good emotions to the bad ones. The aim of the Emotional Scale is to allow people to reach a better and higher emotional level with the help of awareness of their current state.

The more we accept our current emotional state, the easier it is to rise above it and improve it. Thus, self-awareness of emotions can help you in getting in touch with your true self, so that you can make efforts to move to the next step on the Emotional Scale.

Simply positive thinking is not enough to create a change in one’s emotions, awareness and acceptance of the current state is necessary to move up on the Emotional Scale. Depending on where we are on the scale, we will attract people and events that are vibrating at the same frequency as us. In general, being anywhere between Love (1) and Contentment (7) is great.

Abraham Hicks has mapped out 22 of our most common emotions in the following order:

1. Joy/Appreciation/Empowered/Freedom/Love
2. Passion
3. Enthusiasm/Eagerness/Happiness
4. Positive Expectation/Belief
5. Optimism
6. Hopefulness
7. Contentment
8. Boredom
9. Pessimism
10. Frustration/Irritation/Impatience
11. Overwhelment
12. Disappointment
13. Doubt
14. Worry
15. Blame
16. Discouragement
17. Anger
18. Revenge
19. Hatred/Rage
20. Jealousy
21. Insecurity/Guilt/Unworthiness
22. Fear/Grief/Depression/Despair/Powerlessness




The “Tone Scale” by Ron Hubbard

Every person communicates with others in a particular tone. When others do not respond to us in a similar tone, there is lack of communication and problems arise. According to Ron Hubbard, if you talk to a person in the same tone level as their own tone or at a tone level that is just one tone or half tone above their tone, you will be able to bridge the communication gap in a better way and be able to convey your message across.

The best way to modifies someone’s tone or to bring them to a higher tone level is to talk to them at their level and then gradually bring them towards higher tone levels. Improvement of tone of communication can help you interacting with people in a better way and will bring more happiness and hope into your life, as your tone can affect your outlook towards life.

If you draw an imaginary line, then people who use positive tones to communicate can be placed above the line and negatively toned people can be placed below it. The part above the line signifies people who are more alive and have a more positive outlook towards life (happier and healthier), whereas the bottom part contains people who are frustrated and tired of life in general.

The Tone Scale includes tones such as:

4.0 Enthusiasm (people like to follow your lead and you are always excited and eager to help others)
3.5 Cheerfulness
3.0 Conservatism
2.5 Boredom
2.0 Antagonism
1.8 Pain
1.5 Anger
1.1 Covert Hostility
1.0 Fear
0.9 Sympathy
0.5 Grief
0.05 Apathy
0.0 Body Death (you do not care about yourself or others and want people to pity you)



Conclusion
Although all three of these scales use different approaches, the end goal remains the same, to help us in understanding human behavior in a better way. Each of the above given scales uses varying methods for reaching the ultimate goal and for better enlightenment, but if you want to understand your true self, adopting the theories behind these scales can become the key to improving yourself and reaching your higher destiny. So unlock your true potential and become a better YOU with the help of the Hawkins’ “Enlightenment Scale”, Abraham-Hicks’ “Emotional Scale”, or Hubbard’s “Tone Scale”.

Gratitude & Success: A Daily Journal to Cultivate Positivity

If you ever felt that there’s more to life than what you’ve been resigned to accept, then it’s time for you to cast away the mundane life you’ve been living. If you focus too much on scarcity and lack, what you don’t have, what you need, you will never enjoy the present or improve your future. Change your attitude about money, see it for what it really is, a tool for self-improvement, self investment, and to purchase enriching experiences. Yes, you can upgrade the quality of your material possessions, however, true abundance starts within, it’s a feeling of joy and contentment not how much more possessions you can acquire. Abundance isn’t about commercialism, it’s about enlightenment, personal achievement, and blessings. Happy people are thankful people because their focus is on abundance not lack. If you feel that finding thankfulness is difficult because of present circumstances in your life, then start small. No matter where you are in life, you can always find something to be grateful for.

A gratitude journal can be used to bring more abundance in your life. It will help you to keep your focus on being thankful for your daily blessings that you may be overlooking, the things that you might take for granted. At first you may not see results like sudden windfalls of cash being dropped at your doorstep. Only focusing on material benefits is not the point. By bringing your awareness into your morning routine, you can get yourself ready for the rest of the day to be open to giving and receiving. Being in a state of gratitude will lift your mood and shift your awareness to a higher level. If you are weighted down with worry and distress, you may overlook any personal and career growth opportunities.

How you chose to format your journaling is up to you. You may find it best to write one thing you are grateful for every morning. Some will write down one thing they are thankful for and focus on it throughout the day, it could be a loving partner, the roof over your head, your job, pet or your health. You can also create a weekly personal affirmation like “I am grateful and open for the opportunities to create abundance.” Write it down and place it where you can see it throughout your day, carry it with you and re-read it periodically or meditate on it each morning before you start your day. Remember that your gratitude should also be focused for your future blessings, once you have a strong sense of gratefulness for what you have in the present you can move on to creating a brighter future.

The world’s most successful people, celebrities, actors, journalists, and authors have used a success journal or vision board to help create the future of their dreams. This is not a wishing well concept that will grant your wishes while you sit back and wait, it is another tool that keeps you focused on your goal. This means you will need to change your behavior today and start acting as if you have met your goals. This is not an exercise for practice, but a lifestyle change. To start, you can treat your things as if they are at their higher valued counterparts. Would you toss trash into the back seat of your Land Rover or BMW? No, you wouldn’t. Stop the self-negative talk, stop saying “I can’t afford that!” or “Someday…” Go where the successful people are. Shop where they shop, dine where they dine. This doesn’t mean you live or spend money beyond your means, it just means that you are getting comfortable with the lifestyle and are no longer intimidated by it. Try on high quality clothes, test drive luxury cars, peruse the nicer neighborhoods. Walk into a high-end shop like you are going to buy, ask questions, act successful, and feel successful. Write down your successes every day no matter how small they are. The more you acknowledge your wins, the more positive achievements will come your way.

Look at in this way, if you want to lose weight and be healthier, eating potato chips and sitting in front of the TV for hours watching workout videos will not get you results. But if you create a vision board of all the things you want to do, live an active lifestyle, eat beautiful healthily meals, have glowing skin and write a journal of all the benefits you are seeking, you are focusing your mind on the outcome. You will find yourself making different decisions like eating healthier meals, joining a gym and making new friends with the same fitness goals as yourself. Using these tools will help you reach your goal, but change is required. With time you will find yourself taking the appropriate steps towards meeting your goals with confidence and self-assurance and as long as you have a healthy relationship with the material world, your won’t be owned by things, no matter their monetary value.

A person who is closed cannot be open to receive. Before true abundance can be in your life, you need to be able to detach from the material world, if you are coming from a place of desire and only desire and want, you may be too attached to the outcome. Everything in this world is temporary, our precious things can be stolen, destroyed by fire or flood, lost, and eventually wear out. So while it’s nice to have the finer things in life, don’t allow yourself to rely on material things to bring you happiness, inner joy comes from being in a place of gratitude.

Gratitude Journal If you’re holding onto to your material possessions too much, find a way to let go. Some of your things are sentimental; they are nostalgic reminders, if you were to lose them, could you survive without them? Yes, of course you can. By letting go we open ourselves up to newer and better things with a high purpose, it may be a trip to an exotic place we’ve always wanted to go. But if our mind is set in a place of “lack,” we will convince ourselves that we can’t achieve our goals and we will continue to look for excuses to fail.

Besides keeping a gratitude and success journal, you should also consider doing something thoughtful every day for someone else, for example adding money to a parking meter, pay for the person’s coffee behind you in-line, treat a co-worker to lunch, buy flowers for your receptionist just because, any little gift or thoughtful act you can do daily will be paid forward. Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and you will notice any fear of scarcity will slowly erode and you will start to experience true abundance.

Viral Marketing: Know the Medium. Know Your Message

“Viral” by its definition is something that spreads quickly. When planning for good media exposure of your business, a positive viral marketing event is one that nearly all PR people plan for and dream about. While there are quite a few that simply happen due to timing, happenstance or luck, others are thought out, planned and honed to have the maximum effect and optimum ROI.

There are three current viral marketing events that I’ll discuss in this post.

When planning for a viral marketing event, your goal is to bring attention to a cause that is powerful, that has the opportunity to do good, help others and influence the most amount of people to participate. It shouldn’t be something that involves any significant expense, otherwise there will be some that won’t be able to become involved. An action that is self-deprecating is a good choice. Should it be overly challenging? Generally again, if you want the maximum amount of participation you should have something simple.

No Makeup Selfie
What about raising money for cancer research by eschewing makeup? It’s simple, very cost effective, for many women; either who are known for a particular look or prefer a specific appearance, going without makeup can be challenging indeed. Yet in the UK, £8m was generated in just six days by women for the Cancer Research program using the hashtag #nomakeupselfie. The power of the Internet and social media has shown the impact that can be achieved without having to develop a logo, an image, a spokesperson, audio/video clip or multimillion dollar launch. Just a simple hashtag sign and stand back, it’s everywhere. Watch the BBC video below discussing the campaign.

nomakeupselfie

The initial idea wasn’t for cancer research itself, but began as a gesture by author Laura Lippman in defense of an event where legendary actress Kim Novak chose not to wear makeup and roundly was criticized for doing so. Fiona Cunningham saw this and decided to challenge her friends and others to post photos sans makeup online and donate £3 to charity. That was on March 18th. Days afterward, many hundred ‘likes’, Cancer Research UK said as a result of the campaign that they’d received over £8 million in donations. Was Ms. Cunningham a social media expert? Employed by the top firm making generous amounts of money for her expertise? Ms. Cunningham is a self-described “18 year old single mum” that started this from a bedroom in Staffordshire, England.

Yet three simple words preceded by a hashtag sign led to a charitable event that is still generating money today and has spread across the world. What’s equally interesting about it is how the often defined narcissistic selfie became a tool for doing good not only for cancer research, but also for discussion on what defines a woman’s beauty. How much do you think the typical ad agency or social media expert would have charged to produce an ad campaign that was that simple, that powerful, using an action that’s usually mocked, and accomplished what it did? An observation that’s been made is how the complete spontaneity of the campaign was one of the selling points. No rollout, pre-planning, time table, no endorsements, just someone caring and using a social media tool.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Another successful campaign that used some similar elements is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It’s origins are varied; in 2013-2014, the Cold Water Challenge was often used in the Northern U.S where one either donated to charity or jumped into cold water. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation adopted this as a fund raiser. The first actual Ice Bucket challenge occurred in June 2014 during a golfing show where the hosts did a live challenge. Golfer Chris Kennedy is believed to the first person to focus the challenge towards ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis as he had a relative that was affected by the disease. It quickly spread across formats, media, genres, unknowns and celebrities. The challenge here was a little more involved than simply forgoing a morning ritual; depending on the climate, the person’s health and the enthusiasm of the assistants, it could be quite strenuous. The U.S version was generally defined by a challenge being given by someone and within 24 hours you had to record yourself in one shot being doused by a bucket of ice water. If you accepted the challenge, you would donate ten dollars, if you declined then one hundred was the amount. And of course you picked at least three other people.

This particular campaign operated off of at least two primary motivators; the desire to help others, and the age old competitive spirit involved in one-upmanship. The methods ranged from the simple, someone accepts the challenge, they or someone with them deliver the ice water bath up the complex like actor Benedict Cumberbatch seemingly being stalked and splashed everywhere from his backyard deck to outside his car and even in the shower. The results? The ALS Association reported that since July 29, 2014 their donations exceeded well over $100 million and shared the benefits of the campaign with other similar entities such as Project ALS, ALS Therapy Development Institute and the Motor Neurone Disease Association along with ALS Foundation Netherlands.

One element mentioned by critics is that because the challenge is like many others, on the honor system, groups like the Charities Aid Foundation claim that only ten percent of those challenged actually donated. Another issue mentioned is the focus was being taken off the patients with ALS and the entities doing research and simply being an opportunity for people to exercise their 15 minutes of fame or for celebrities to build their fan base; thus mirroring the self-focused element of the selfie. Something that businesses should be very wary of is trying to claim a viral campaign developed outside of house for their own. The ALS Association reportedly attempted to trademark the term “ice bucket challenge”. Understandably, they withdrew the request shortly afterward after a barrage of complaints and negative comments.

Comparing these two events show that although the ice bucket challenge had an apparently wider media audience, there was also more opportunity for criticism and co-opting of the intended cause for personal gain. This is the dual edged sword that social media campaigns that achieve viral status must be aware of. Anything that becomes popular in all likelihood will be mocked and potentially exploited so a clear delineation of what is the original or true cause and means for supporting it are stated and having the ability to either ignore or adapt to being lampooned.

Harlem Shake
Viral media campaigns don’t always have to be focused on a special, noble cause. They can just end up being wildly popular with some experts still unsure exactly what drives the results aside from people just sharing something on the internet. For example, take Harry Rodrigues. He wrote a track called “Shake” that was initially release in June of 2012 to a somewhat modest response. By February of 2013, it had raced up the Digital Songs chart to number three, a jump of about 1,359%. Why, because this artist, known professionally as Baauer, found his track used as part of an internet meme called, “Harlem Shake.” For the small percentage of people who haven’t seen this yet, the thirty second video typically has one person dancing with other around them ignoring their actions and then the last fifteen seconds cuts to a crowd of people dancing as well, usually in costumes or some other attire depending on the source of the video or the intention of the creator.

harlemshake

What many people took note of was the fact of virtually little if no radio airplay that supported the track, it was entirely supported by the Internet, by the assorted memes and other video compilations that it was associated with. It’s popularity couldn’t be ignored as it was able to bump off the top hit “Thrift Shop” and had very impressive results in other music ratings charts. One might think given the randomness of the internet and the variety of posts that Baauer would be getting little or nothing from all the variations of his song. YouTube has a program called Content ID and along with a company called INDmusic they made a deal with Baauer’s indie label Mad Decent and began monetizing the video views. As of February 7, 2013, over 4,000 uploaded videos were detected, connected and paid Baauer for his work. Channel partners reportedly can take about 55% of revenues from every view. To put it in perspective, the previous music hit, “Gangham Style” by Psy, averaged $2 for every 1,000 YouTube views. That’s almost two million dollars. It’s goofy, it’s irreverent, to some, it’s incomprehensible. But it’s undeniably lucrative.

So what do you have to do to ride the next wave of viral campaign success? You probably shouldn’t have your office go wild with a camera recording everything. What you’ll need to do is closely follow trending activities and have the ability to graft one or more of those together with a video element such a Vine or still photos using a hashtag that makes a quick connection. Being able to plan FOR a viral marketing event is one thing, sitting around and waiting for it happen is like hoping you’re going to win the lottery or the slot machines. You can make some goals about what to do if it happens but as they say, don’t plan for your retirement on it, or in this case, your future business.

The uniqueness of social media has many opportunities and traps that you have to consider when using it. Keep in the mind the medium and the user; quick, catchy, popular, easily accessible. Once it starts, have your plan in place for how to maximize your use of it without abusing it. Will your marketing campaign be the next Internet sensation? Know the Medium. Know your Message.