Introduction: How to Start a Flash Mob
Simple guidelines for creating a Flash Mob or Cacophonous Event.
Step 1: Have an (original) Idea
These are harder to come by than you think. Flash Mobs and Cacophonous Events aren't very effective if nobody attends and they aren't very fun if you're only aping something that's already been done in another city.
Ideally, they should be any one or combination of the following:
- Silly fun ( Pillow Fight Club, [http://Spontaneous Musical Food Court Musical])
- Subversive ( Frozen Grand Central, Critical Mass, Belarusian Ice Cream Mob, Smile Mob)
- Costumed Rampage ( Santarchy, Zombie Mob, The Brides of March)
- Benignly disruptive ( ATM Applause Mob)
A wider range of people are more likely to join you if your event does not:
- Promote a profit-making enterprise
- Exalt a specific individual or group
- Cost much (if anything) to participate in
- Have overtly political overtones (then it's a demonstration, and you will get tear gassed)
Step 2: Timing Is Everything
This refers back to the whole participation thing. If your event is spontaneous in nature and just requires people to show up at the same time and do something goofy(say, gather at a subway stop and follow the first bearded person you see as if they were Jesus), they won't need much time to prepare. The ideal time for this sort of event is at the end of the workday (between 5 and 6PM) during the week as a) the streets are more crowded and b)participants are more available. For whatever reason, Thursdays seem to be most effective.
If you are planning something more elaborate, like a Costumed Rampage, you want to give people at least a week to prepare, and preferably two. These events are most effective in heavily populated shopping and tourist areas, so Saturday afternoons work best. Note: these often turn into drunkfests.
Step 3: Get the Word Out
By now you should have figured that all of the steps actually go back to the participation thing. People can't show if they don't know.
If your event is spontaneous in nature, you can:
- Create an anonymous email account (it's best that your event not have an easily identifiable leader) and send to 50 random people in your address book. Ask them to send it along to another 20 people.
- Post to bulletin boards like www.Craigslist.org. You can post to the Events board, or target a specific demographic by posting to specific discussion forums (kink, vegan, divorce, etc.).
- you can also use sites such as www.xflashmobs.com to sms message your mob to cell phones, but this will require that you establish a contact list, which isn't very spontaneous.
If your event is more elaborate:
- Post to local event calendars and discussion groups. The following are pretty good bets:
Step 4: Step Back and Enjoy
This is your mob. You provided the ideation, the timing and the marketing. Now step away. People just really want to be led, but resist the urge. If your concept has merit, the mob will self organize and self determine into something more than you could have ever conceived. If you lead it, it will likely just become a parade. Not that there's anything wrong with parades.