[Flash Mob: A large group of people who gather at a public location to perform a pre-defined action, typically a brief dance, and disperse rapidly after the event has concluded.]
Flashmob, the latest talk of the town, isn’t a new phenomenon. The world saw its first Flashmob demonstration in the year 2003 in Manhattan organized by Bill Wasik senior editor of Harper’s Magazine. However, it all began, like Facebook, as a playful social experiment – meant to encourage big gatherings, humor and spontaneity. Organized secretly through social media, viral emails or websites, these flash mobs gained immense popularity courtesy their element of surprise.
Like everything else, that becomes a rage amongst masses, takes to becoming the next marketing tool for the brands of the world. This phenomenon too didn’t get past the big brands unnoticed. It awestruck brands with some power performances across the globe and what followed was a flood of flashmobs.
However, a majority of these manifestations failed – just like what we saw for brand pages on Facebook – they came, they saw but they couldn’t conquer. Closer home in India, the brands and individuals got so enthused by the successful demonstration at Mumbai CST that it became the most overdone activity of recent time thereby leading to death of its charm.
This is not to say that Flashmobs have failed in India or that the brands should avoid using flashmobs but to make a point that howsoever interesting the tool may be its application has to be grounded on a solid premise.
Be it the Flashmobs or the Facebook, brands must remember these:
1. Consumers (as we are known) want to be ENTERTAINED, ENGAGED and LET FREE and not BOMBARDED with irrelevant communication. Hence, usage of social platforms or tools should be to engage people and not hard sell products.
2. TOO MUCH and TOO FREQUENT spoil the fun. Too much of branding makes it look like a marketing gimmick and too frequent activity kills interest and thus brands must keep it alive with relevance and surprise.
3. You don’t HAVE TO do it just because EVERYONE else is doing it. We saw this on Facebook – some brands credited their Facebook presence to being “early adopters of any new technology”, some did so to the “consumer centricism” while a lot others just exclaimed “We have to be on Facebook because EVERYONE is on FACEBOOK!” that’s quite honest I would say. However, a lot of brand efforts eventually died down all thanks to their aimless hunt for fans/likes.
4. Don’t follow the herd. INNOVATE. American comedian Charlie Todd, once had a group practice synchronized swimming in a public fountain in New York. Another time he had some 50 people enter an electronics store wearing the same type of clothes as the store’s employees.
Some super successful flash mob acts –