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Social Media Column: ‘Cash mobs’ boost for local economy

Published in the July 10, 2012 issue of The Edmonton Sun.

Linda’s social media column can be found every Tuesday in the Edmonton Sun.

‘Cash mobs’ boost for local economy

If you don’t have anything planned yet for Saturday, you should consider taking part in a local cash mob.

Cash mobs spin off the idea of flash mobs, and encourage people to put money into local businesses by gathering together and “mobbing” a store.

I took part in a cash mob in April where the small used bookstore chosen for the mob raked in more than $1,000 in just one hour. Fantastic, right? Now there’s another one being planned for Saturday, July 14.

The beauty about cash mobs (which are taking place in cities all around the world) is that they’re organized primarily through social media.

In Edmonton’s case, the local business that’s mobbed is suggested by Edmontonians on Facebook. Word about where and when a mob will take place is also primarily advertised through Facebook and Twitter. In some cases of very impromptu mobs, notice is given to Facebook fans and tweeple just days in advance and Edmontonians still show up.

Tommy Kalita, Edmonton’s cash mob organizer, says they’ve consistently had about 50 people out to past events and while there are familiar faces, there’s also new people getting involved each time, thanks to social media and word of mouth.

“The coolest part about it is that people, who aren’t connected really at all, are finding this and coming out,” Kalita says.

At a time when eating, shopping and living local is becoming “the” thing to do; cash mob is smartly tapping in on the wonderful world of social media to help grow their cause at a cost of nothing. Saturday’s mob will be the third official event in Edmonton. The first one took place in March, another in April, and there was a smaller scale mob in June that also encouraged Edmontonians to support the city’s theatre community by attending a Next Fest show.

Cash mob Edmonton hopes to use the mob format in different areas in the near future. “One of the things we’re discussing is how we’re going to expand on that and hopefully use social media as a platform to do a little more for these businesses beyond just doing a monthly event.”

You’re only asked to spend about $20 during a mob, so it’s not too costly and it adds up to big bucks for the mom and pop store when combined with other mobbers’ money. You also get good feelings knowing you’re helping the local economy.

To find out when the next cash mob is, follow @CMEdmontonAB on Twitter or like the page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CashMobEdmontonAB.

Click here to read the column on the Edmonton Sun website!

Linda Hoang is an Edmonton blogger who writes about food, travel, lifestyle/events and pets. She's also a social media/digital specialist with a journalism background. Linda is in love with her city and loves exploring and promoting Edmonton and other places she visits with her husband Mike. Linda is also the founder of the Edmonton International Cat Festival (and has 2 cats herself, along with 2 dogs).

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