This morning I received 2 simultaneous notifications on Facebook. The AIDS Walk captain for the NYC Gay Men's Chorus had an announcement about the upcoming walk, so he posted it on 2 of our internal Facebook groups.
Getting simultaneous notifications like that is actually quite common for me. Our chorus has 3 active groups on Facebook right now - a testament to how difficult it is to effectively manage internal communications (and satisfy everyone) in a group of 260 singers - and it's not uncommon for people to post the same message in all 3 of those groups.
For the AIDS Walk, I don't mind. But there's a pretty constant stream of announcements for cabaret shows, social outings, housing, jobs, etc. At times, this can get confusing and more than a little annoying.
The Struggle (Is Real)
The problem is that for heavily social, member-driven organizations, like choruses, member-to-member communication is absolutely vital. The social component is a large part of what makes choruses into families. But managing this aspect of an organization is a struggle for almost every chorus I know.
The key issues all choruses face are:
- How do you create a safe space where members can interact with one another and feel heard?
- How do you effectively moderate communication to make sure that if/when people do talk about official chorus business (e.g. logistics, call times, or concert attire), correct information gets disseminated?
- How do you make it easy for singers to opt in or out, so that people can participate in this unofficial chatter at their own comfort level?
- How do you manage all of this in a way that doesn't overwhelm the already overworked volunteers and staff running these organizations?
As with every aspect of choir management, there are a variety of solutions out there. Here's a sample:
Like NYCGMC, many organizations have one or more Facebook groups for internal communications.
- Many people already use Facebook on a regular basis
- Built-in, effective notification system
- Not everyone is on it
- Often mushrooms into multiple groups, which can become confusing and frustrating
- Some choruses worry that if singers share video footage of rehearsals or performances that include copyright-protected materials, this might present a legal risk to the organization (even in a closed group)
Some organizations use group email lists like Google or Yahoo groups for this purpose.
- Many people already use email on a regular basis
- Inclusive of non-Facebook users
- Yet another email list to manage
- Can be quite cumbersome for admins
Chorus management software
Chorus management tools like Groupanizer, Musetta, and Chorus Connection have all attempted to solve the problem of internal social communications (you can see more about Chorus Connection's solution here). The specific pros and cons differ between these solutions, but there are some commonalities.
- Internal social communications live in the same place as all other chorus information (directory, calendar, music files, etc)
- Inclusive of non-Facebook users
- These tools are typically not a part of singers' day-to-day life, so people have to be trained to use them
None of these solutions are perfect, but they all seem to strike a decent balance. What about you? Has your chorus found an effective way to manage internal social communications?
Jacob is the founder of Chorus Connection and a proud member of the NYC Gay Men’s Chorus. A lifelong choir nerd and tech geek, he loves marrying his passions to help community choruses run more efficiently. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!