Editor’s Note: We compiled our best stories on Vacation Bible School, service projects, and retreats into one easy reference page. Visit our Plan for Summer landing page for more great ideas.
From sports camps to cooking clinics, children (and their parents) today are bombarded with choices for summer entertainment. Gone are the days when vacation Bible school was the most anticipated event of the season. So, how can churches compete for attention and participation in such a crowded “market”? Check out these last-minute ways to promote your VBS online.
1. Create fun commercials.
Commercials continue to be an effective means of advertising, but that doesn't mean you have to pay for them. Using smartphones and social media, you can create (and air) your own online commercials for free! Use proven tips for video marketing to create, post and share clips on your church’s websites and on social media. To take your messages over the top, enlist creative personalities from your church to brainstorm and create memorable videos. Be sure to learn all the common elements in viral videos before you start planning.
2. Need to do it yourself? Short on time? Then keep it simple.
- You can post individual videos to make it easy, but if you have a little more time, you can import your videos into iMovie (iOS) or Movie Maker (Windows) and edit the best shots together. Also consider adding legal music for videos for added impact.With the parents’ permission and release forms signed, use your smartphone to video record children in your congregation answering the question, “What do you enjoy most about VBS?”
- Go to your personal Facebook or your church’s Facebook page.
- Click “Photo/Video” at the top of your page's timeline.
- Click “Upload Photos/Video.”
- Click “Choose File” to add the video from your phone.
- Add the name of your church and the dates and times of your VBS to go with your video.
- Click “Post” and encourage your friends to share!
3. Send online invitations.
Children love to receive mail, even when it’s email! Send online invitations to children whose families are already part of your congregation or send reminders to children who are preregistered. Online “postcards” are much cheaper than snail mail and can be sent at the last minute. Sites such as smilebox.com, paperlesspost.com and evite.com offer invitations to create and send for free. One caveat: be aware of sites that automatically post ads to your invitations.
4. Create your own mobile app.
Use the smartphone craze to your advantage. Create a mobile app both to remind parents about VBS and to keep them informed before and during the week of fun. Programs such as Yapp, appmakr and appypie allow you to create your own event hub for free or a low monthly fee. Such a site gives you the opportunity to publish all relevant details of your event, as well as a detailed schedule and a news feed where participants can post comments and pictures.
5. Make a meme.
What about a meme, those humorous photos and captions that pop up on your Facebook feed? You can create your own memes to promote your VBS as well as share others, using sites such as mememaker.net or makeameme.org. Don’t forget to comment or include a link with the details of your VBS (dates, time, location, registration details) if they are not included in the actual meme.
6. Count down to the big day.
During the week leading up to your VBS kickoff, take and post pictures of the staff and congregation making preparations. Using the same instructions as for posting videos, post the pictures to social media and your church website as you count down to the big day. Make sure to have all the important details included with the post or in a link.
7. Blog about it!
Chances are very good that if you don’t blog, you know someone who does. Take advantage of the readership. Write (or ask someone else) to write a blog about special VBS memories or how VBS made a difference in one child’s life. Include your event information in a graphic or picture with the blog or in a prominent footnote at the end.
8. Post on classified sites
Community websites are great places to post details of your VBS. Be sure to check out the sites of local newspapers and radio and television stations. Many offer free online listings for local events. People looking for last-minute activities often check such sites to find free and fun things to do.
It’s not too late to promote your event! With the speed of the Internet at your fingertips, you may discover that last-minute promotions are among the most effective ways of garnering interest in your VBS!