Monday, April 2, 2012

Cash Mobs: Going from Bad to Good, One Flash Mob at a Time

The term "flash mob" used to have mostly nefarious -- well, okay, criminal -- connotations. But social media changed all that.

Flash Mobs have turned into Cash Mobs .. and that's a good thing.

Unlike groups incited to hit a retailer for an explosion of shoplifting, cash mobs have an altruistic intent: to support local retailers with consumer-supported shopping splurges.

That's the concept behind Cash Mob day organized by Cleveland lawyer Andrew Samtoy. His idea was to get 100 people to gather on March 24, with the goal of spending $20 each at The Nature's Bin, a local organic grocery store. As the happy recipient of Samtoy's spend-a-thon, Cornucopia, Inc., the nonprofit that runs Nature's Bin, couldn't be happier. "The cash mob made us all, once again, realize that we have a great story to tell, which anyone can relate to, and that it is our story that separates us from the competition."

How did Samtoy market the concept? One customer at a time. "We have a very limited marketing budget and [this effort] brought in people who wouldn't have been here. It sounds corny, but we really build a base one customer at a time," he added.

The cash mob concept is growing nationwide. The first on record happened a few months earlier in Buffalo, New York, organized by blogger, Christopher Smith, who calls cash mobs "a sort of reverse Groupon."

Cash mobs are organized via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter: San Diego Cash Mobs, for example, with 798 "likes," and Vermont Cash Mobbers.

Rich with innovation and new chapters on how to organize and motivate people, social media remains a marketing event waiting to happen.

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