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How to Organise a Flashmob

A flash mob (or flashmob) is a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual action for a brief time, then quickly disperse.” – Wikipedia

It is a little over two years since I started the Adelaide Flash Mob (AFM).  I’ve had some help from a number of people for various events but most I have organised by myself.  I am now ready to hand over the organisation to others for a while so I decided to write this article to give them a headstart.  Other people who are looking to set up a group and run events will also find it useful.

Getting Started

The AFM started out on Facebook and I still think its by far the best tool for organising events, especially those of this nature.  All you need to do to get started is set up a flashmob group on facebook and start promoting it.  Invite all your friends and encourage them to invite theirs and so on.  You can also post a link to your group on other local facebook groups and non facebook websites such as message boards.  Once you have enough people in the group you can create a facebook event for your first flashmob.

In addition to Facebook, we’ve used a number of other mediums to promote our events and stay in contact with members.  Most of these are optional, but I would suggest that a website is a very good idea for to cover and promote your group’s activities.

  • Website
  • Groups at local Universities
  • E-mailing list
  • Youtube & Flickr accounts

Event Ideas

The official Wikipedia flashmob definition above has proved to be a useful foundation for the AFM’s bread and butter events.  However, I saw no reason why we should restrict our activities to those defined above.  Inspired by groups such as Improv Everywhere, we’ve successfully branched out to other types of events such as Ninjas, No Pants and Burst into Song.

Different people organise and participate in flash mobs for different reasons.  For me, flashmobbing has always been about having fun and creating unsuspectators (unsuspecting spectators) of passersby and hopefully giving them a story to tell.  I also like creating videos, reports and discussions of our events so that people can stumble upon them and be like WTF and have a bit of a laugh.  If someone wants to organise an event that doesn’t necessarily conform with the wikipedia flashmob definition but still has the same goals in mind then I say have at it.

We quickly realised that people were only penciling in our events on their calenders rather than making a strong committment.  The theory was that single mob events weren’t really worth the time and energy to get to the location and plans to attend were quickly abbandoned for any alternative.  To combat this we started running flash mob events with 3-4 mob activities each event to make more of a day of it.  This seemed to work quite well and we haven’t looked back since.

Cooperative Events

From time to time I gets emails from people or groups wanting to do a cooperative event for a charitable, religous, political or commercial cause. These are instances where the goals of the events are not in line with the “fun” goals described above, therefore I decline. My response has always been that the AFM doesn’t support any position on any side of any issue. I’m happy to offer them advice about planning and runnings flashmob-like events and even letting our members know that the event is occurring but nothing more.

Organisation Process

Here I will explain the basic process we use to organise AFM events.

  1. Determine the Type of Event
  2. Pick a Time, Date and Location
  3. Create a Facebook Event (+ other media)
  4. Write the Event Instructions
  5. Organise People to Film and Photograph
  6. Attend the Event
  7. Create an Event Report
  8. Stay in Touch

1. Determine the Type of Event

This needs to be the first step as it will inform the date and location decisions that follow.  You don’t need to work out the specifics yet, just the basic shell of the idea or type of idea.

2. Pick a Time, Date and Location

It pays to do a bit of research for this.  Send out a message to the group and try and get an idea of what days, dates and times people are free and which locations they can easily get to.  Some ideas might require specific types of destinations so keep that in mind also.  We have been stung a few times with low turnouts because we scheduled our event the same day as some other major event.

3. Create a Facebook Event (+ other media)

The more information you put on the event the more likely people are to make a commitment to come along. You may want to save the event details until closer to the event time or even on the day but be prepared for a smaller turnout.  We have tried both methods and outlined the pros and cons in the next section, ‘Write the Event Instructions.’

It helps to put the definition of a flashmob along with some links to past event reports or videos to let people know what flashmobbing is all about.  It also helps to encourage people to invite their friends along as well to try and get the event going viral.

If you use media other than facebook, eg. a website or mailing list, then you should post the event details to those mediums as well.

4. Write the Event Instructions

For most of our flashmob events we didn’t give any details on the event page, only instructed them to meet us at a particular time and place to receive a sheet of written instructions.  We found that this meant our events were more secretive and passersby were less likely to know what was going on.  Regular participants also commented that it added a secret agent type feel to events, which they enjoyed.  This approach limited our turnouts significantly to 15-30 participants with many people saying that they weren’t prepared to make the committment to come out unless they new what was happening before hand.

For our past few events we have experimented with putting the instructions on the event page well before the event.  We needed to ensure that the ideas were quite simple so that people could easily understand and remember them without any explanation.  This approach led to our last event having around 100 participants which we were very happy with.

If you decide to go with the second option (posting the instructions on the event), a method we’ve had success with is to create the event with the instructions for the first activity on the event then add the rest of the instructions in the follow up to the day.  Each time you add more details you can message all the invitees to let them know, encourage them to invite their friends and drum up some anticipation and excitement about the event.  Frequent messages leading up to the event is also a good way to remind people that the event is on so they don’t go and make plans to do something else that day.

5. Organise People to Film and Photograph

We have been lucky enough to have a fairly dedicated videographer right from the start.  If you don’t know anyone, send out a message to the group to try and find someone.  If you can’t organise filmers then photographers are the next best thing.

6. Attend the Event

Depending on the event, there might be various levels of organisation required on the day.  We have found it beneficial to include something on the event page to let everyone know they can come and have some lunch/dinner at the foodcourt after the event if they want to.  I like to go around and introduce myself to the participants, ask if they enjoyed it, which activity was the best and and suggestions or ideas for future events.

7. Create an Event Report

We do this on our website but if you don’t have a website you can always create a discussion on the facebook group.  Post links to videos, photos and write a report on how they event went.  Message all the event invitees, thank them for coming and encourage them to head to the event report and post their comments on how the event went.  You need to do this as soon as possible after the event while it’s still fresh in everyone’s minds.

Event reports are one of my favourite parts of flashmobbing after the events themselves.  They provide a lasting record of what happened on the day and are great for promoting the group and helping to get people excited about future events.

8. Stay in Touch

One thing I’ve noticed is that people can get pretty excited about flashmobbing in the lead up to events and shortly after, but if they don’t hear from you for a while they quickly lose interest.  In order to maintain interest and keep people motivated its a good idea to stay in contact with group members inbetween events.  Create some discussion threads on the group page and encourage people to discuss possible ideas, post links to similar events from around the world and get involved in the organisation proccess.

The Organisers

Whether you have one, two or ten organisers, each event needs an Event Champion (EC) to make sure things get done.  In my limited experience organising events with a small group of people, unless you have a strong voice to lead the group and make the important decisions on time, nothing seems to get done.  Whats more, the internet medium makes it much easier for people to ignore requests for help, hiding behind the excuse of ‘I haven’t had time to check my messages’ or something similar.

For most of our events since the beginning I have been the sole organiser and hence the Event Champion in each case.  However, the EC model should work with any number of organisers.  The idea is that the EC still coordinates the organisation and makes the important decisions but delegates certain tasks and draws on the input and expertise of other organisers.

Below is a list of the key organisational roles for putting together a flashmob.  The AFM organisers use a seperate facebook group to discuss and plan upcoming events.  The members are encouraged to volunteer for a role and advise of any other special skills the possess.  The chosen role and special skills are then attached to the person’s name using the ‘officer’ function in the group.


  1. Organiser
  2. Event Champion (Event Manager)
  3. Videographer
  4. Website Editor
  5. Ideas
  6. Media Contact
  7. Promotions


This should be a small, motivated and trustworthy group of individuals who will maintain the facebook group.  They should have admin privelages of the group/s.

Main Tasks:

  • Creating Events
  • Appoint Event Champions (ECs)
  • Updating the facebook group’s info and news sections
  • Answering questions
  • Staying in touch with members
  • Organising the organisers
  • Keeping the organisers group fresh

Event Champion (Event Manager)

The ECs organise and run the events.  Anyone can be and EC.  If someone has an idea for an event, they need to contact an organiser to work out a date and create a facebook event.  Once the event is created, the organiser simply appoints the EC to be an Admin of the event.

The EC is responsible for ensuring that each step of the organising process gets done.  They may divide and delegate tasks as they see fit, but in the long run they need to make the hard decisions, on time, to ensure that the event runs smoothly.

Main Tasks:

  • Organising and executing events
  • Delegating tasks
  • Running the facebook event page
  • Writing for the website if required


If you send out a message to the facebook group you will probably find numberous budding Youtubers willing to film your events and edit the footage.  We are lucky to have a dedicated videographer who films each of our events, edits the footage and uploads the video to the Youtube channel for everyone to enjoy.

Main Tasks:

  • Filming events
  • Editing videos
  • Distributing videos
  • Managing Youtube account

Website Editor

The website editor is responsible for maintaining and updating the content of the website.

Main Tasks:

  • Writing event reports
  • Posting upcoming event details and instructions
  • Maintaining articles, links and news
  • Answering comments


Anyone can come up with event ideas.  Ideas need not conform with any particular structure but should have similar goals in mind.

Main Tasks:

  • Brainstorming ideas
  • Writing event instructions
  • Commenting and building upon other people’s ideas

Media Contact

Responsible for dealing with the media whether its contacting them for event promotion or responding to requests for information and interviews.

Main Tasks:

  • Contacting the media for event promotion
  • Responding to interview and information requests
  • Being interviewed about the AFM and flashmobbing


In general this means promoting the group to get more regular participants.

Main Tasks:

  • Promoting the group to get more regular participants
  • Promoting specific events to get more participants (such as Ninjas or No Pants but probably not flashmobs)

Group and Event Promotion

This is one aspect that we’ve dabbled in at the AFM but is an area where much more could be done.  Theres a bit of a catch 22 because more people means bigger and better events so its desirable, but if the group and events become too well known then the flashmobs will lose their impact on unsuspectators.  Below are some methods we use to promote the AFM.  If you have any other ideas please post them in the comments below.

News Media

Adelaide only has a population of about 1.2 million so to avoid over exposure, our strategy has been to promote the group in every way we can and to promote our non flashmob events such as Ninja’s and No Pants, but not to promote the individual flashmob events themselves.

  • We contact the media specifically to promote large, open events such as No Pants.
  • If we have requests for information or interviews from the media then we accept and use them to promote the group in general.
  • We try to keep the details of upcoming flashmobs underwraps and direct people to the facebook group or website if they want to get involved.


  • Keep in constant contact with the group.  Message everyone each time something happens such as a video going up or event report coming out.  If nothing has happened lately, send a message asking for event ideas or expressions of interest to help out with organising.
  • Encourage people to invite their friends at the bottom of the group info, event info and in relevant messages.
  • Contact the admins of related groups and ask if they can send out a message to their members of post a link in the news about your group or upcoming event.  Don’t spam though.
  • Send out regular messages to event invitees leading up to the date so as to keep people interested and remind them that the event is occurring.


  • Have a dedicated youtube account
  • Publicise videos by facebook, email, website etc.
  • Try and get them to go viral

Posters and Other Print

  • If you use instructions for an event be sure to put your website and facebook group address down the bottom.
  • Use posters sparingly as they are no where near as efficient as online promotion and use paper

Other Online Promotion

  • Try and get the group and events mentioned on forums, blogs, events websites etc.

Guidelines For Participating in Flash Mobs

We’ve created following guidelines, by adapting those from the Sydmob website, for people to follow to make our mobs as enjoyable and effective as possible.

The Organisation

When going to a flashmob, the mobbers would have received some simple instructions by email sent out the night before or that morning to inform them where they need to be, and at what time. Also usually another instruction is given, to locate an individual who will pass onto them via a slip of paper the next set of instructions which would contain all the info they need to know for what is required of them at that particular flashmob. The instruction given for locating them could be something as simple as looking in a certain area for a person (male or female) wearing a white pair of pants and a green hat or perhaps even carrying a certain book. The first given instruction may not actually contain the information a mobber would expect; it could be yet another instruction to locate yet another person who has the information they actually need.

The Mob

To successfully pull off a FlashMob just right, the mobbers need to learn the subtle art of blending in with the rest of the general public. Now this might not sound like a big deal, but it’s pretty important and a very vital part of any attempt at a mob. We’ve all seen those cornball movies where actors are trying to be inconspicuous but end up doing exactly the opposite (scarf, dark glasses.. you get the general idea) That’s not the kind of “Act casual” effect we’re aiming for.

Basically, at sometime during the FlashMob you will find yourself in a situation where for a short duration you will be gathered in an area about to go into the main part of the Flash Mobbing itself (the act) It’s at this time that you may be in close proximity with other fellow mobbers and the following will help you “keep your cool”, so to speak:

– When you’re waiting in the area where the act is about to take place, act as you normally would.

It really is that simple. If you’re sitting, sit as you normally would do in any other given situation where you are sitting in a public place. Standing ? Yep, you got it. Same deal.

– Conversing with other mobbers/friends/strangers

Now this is a bit of a grey area really. I mean, it would be pretty stupid to try and encourage people NOT to talk with friends in a public place. After all, that’s what you would normally do, right ? As for strangers, well if someone asks you the time, do what you would normally do (long as that isn’t punch them in the face) Talk about anything – just don’t start up a conversation about Flash Mobbing. Common sense really. If you are having a conversation try not to be too distracted from watching the clock.

– Attempt to not “mob” too early

What this means is try to make room between yourself and other mobbers. Seeing a group of people who are supposed to be strangers (well.. ok for the record most of you WILL be strangers, but you get what I mean) bunched up together will perhaps give a passerby the impression that you and the people standing near on top of you are a mob of friends. This is something we all want to avoid at all costs. So if you are with a bunch of friends, do separate away from each other as much as possible. It certainly won’t ruin the mobbing experience for you, and you all can get together afterwards and give each other your own personal account of what you saw from where you were when the act and eventual disperse happened.

– Converge to the area from random directions

This one ought to be pretty obvious already. Seeing people heading up a public street in mass looks like a crowd of people not only who most probably know each other personally, but also look to be headed somewhere with a purpose. That’s a big no no right there. What you would need to do is plan from which direction you will be coming from to reach the area and also observe how many people seem to be heading in the direction as well. If there already appears to be people taking the same route, take a few extra twists and turns. Also put some distance between yourself and others. But remember to once again keep an eye on the clock. Time is of the essence.

– Don’t arrive too early and don’t arrive too late

This is probably the most important thing to remember. For the flashmob to have the best impact, It’s all a matter of timing. The instructions will have specific time or action cues to make sure everyone in the mob acts as one.

The Disperse

From the accounts of anyone that has participated in a FlashMob, its the actual end of the whole planned act that really leaves the impact on both those involved and those watching. Witnessing a large group of complete strangers suddenly come together and perform a pre-written instruction in itself is impressive enough, but seeing those same people suddenly leave the area in totally random directions acting like nothing actually took place is where the real fun begins. Heres some guidelines for the disperse:

– If you are attending a mob with either a partner or a large group of friends, organize to meet at a designated spot after the act has taken place. Preferably this spot should be far enough away so that people who have just witnessed the event don’t put 2 and 2 together.

– When the act is over, disperse from the area at the allocated cue (this could be be some action or at a certain time) outlined in the instructions handed to you by the organizer. Choose a direction and leave *alone*. This cannot be stressed enough.

– Try and not converse with anyone when you are leaving the area, fellow mobbers and especially spectators. If someone really wants to ask what happened, shrug and deny any knowledge. What just took place didn’t actually take place at all.

– There has been reports at some mobs that participants have suddenly gone into a round of applause at the end of the act just before the disperse happens. This is a big no no as it will alert the general public to the fact that this was an actual planned activity and that we all probably know each other.

– When the disperse happens, leave the area in a calm and sensible manner. When you have a group of people which could reach over 100 it’s never a good idea to initiate a mass stampede, the threat of injury happening is quite real.

– Leave nothing behind but the lasting effect on the minds of your fellow mobbers and the witnessing general public.

All in all, most of those points should be pretty easy to understand and in practice will become second nature. Hopefully no one will be interpreting these as “rules” that will be enforced upon people by scary burly men with no necks. No, not all. These are simply more guidelines for people to follow so their flashmob experience will be a good one.

Types of Flash Mobs

Flash Mobs come in many different shapes and sizes and there really is no limit to what can be done in a flash mob. Mobs can be based on scenes from movies or plays, they can simply be a random activity in a normal place or a normal activity in a random place. In the past, Flash Mobs have been organised as a form of protest or to push some political or religious agender, however this is not what the Adelaide Flash Mob is about.

Flash Mobs created by this group are for the express purpose of creating fun and enjoyment for those involved, providing a spectacle for those around us and leaving them bewildered and without explanation so they have a story to go home and tell their families and friends about.

For the very first flash mob more than one hundred people converged upon the ninth floor rug department of Macy’s department store, gathering around one particular very expensive rug. Anyone approached by a sales assistant was advised to say that the gatherers lived together in a warehouse on the outskirts of New York, that they were shopping for a Love Rug, and that they made all their purchase decisions as a group.
Following this flash mob, about 200 people flooded the lobby and mezzanine of the Hyatt hotel in synchronized applause for about fifteen seconds, and next a shoe boutique in SoHo was invaded by participants pretending to be tourists on a bus trip.

Check out these youtube vids for some examples of Flash Mobs:

Abercrombie Dance Party
Liverpool Street Station

Paddington Dance Party
Look North

Pillow fights are a popular Flash Mob theme:
Flash Mob 1
Flash Mob 2
Flash Mob 3

Worship the Sock Man
Musical Bumps
Car Cheering
Domino Day
Killer Bees
Tango Flash Mob
Poke Flash Mob
Water Fight

Flash Mobs have been utilised in some commercials:
Chicken Flash Mob
Coke Commercial
Bang: Xbox Commercial

be kind rewind download

download deaths of ian stone the free

Heres some more Flash Mobs based on the Xbox commercial above:
Ninja Battle

Below are some links to videos of ‘missions’ carried out by the NYC based group ‘Improv Everywhere. Some of their ‘missions’ have certain Mobbing similarities, however the group was started well before the first Flash Mob occured and what they do can be best described as a sort of street theatre. Having said this, their missions have basically the same objectives of Flash Mobs: Have fun & Create a Spectacle. I would encourage you to check out some of their videos, and if you find them interesting then read their mission reports on their website, very entertaining, and I have to warn you: very addictive.
Slo-Mo Home Depot
Look Up More
Best Buy

Drop us an email if you’re interested in putting together an Adelaide Based group based on Improv Everywhere. Some ideas that I particularly want to try out are ‘No pants on the train,’ and our own version of an MP3 Experiment- perhaps in the Fringe. The group could also recruit people from the ‘Adelaide Flash Mob’ pool of names to carry out larger missions that have Mobbing similarities.

Another idea thats out there is a sort of highly organised Flash Mob mainly for ‘freaking out’ people and filming it like a sort of hidden camera show. This is an example of what I mean, and is something that would definitely by fun to try:
100 Person Mob