Using Pinterest to run contests or giveaways, and the rules to follow!
Pin it to Win (It) contests were very popular circa 2012. However, Pinterest has since really cracked down on their contest rules and considers many contest practices to be spam. So is there a way to still run a contest on Pinterest to attract new followers/traffic? Well, yes, but you’ll need to be creative about it. Below is my recommendations and “work around” for running a Pinterest Contest while adhering to the official rules.
First thing’s first..
What are the Rules?
- You can not suggest that Pinterest sponsors or endorses you or the promotion
- You can not use the Pinterest wordmark, only the submark which must remain unaltered, in Pinterest Red, be accompanied by your Pinterest URL, and remain smaller than your Brand Logo.
- You can not ask users to pin a specific pin
- You can not call the contest a “Pin It to Win It” contest.
- You can not require participants to pin the contest rules
- You can not allow more than one entry per participant.
- You can not ask participants to comment on a pin
- You can not ask participants to vote with pins, boards, or likes
- You can not require a minimum number of pins
- You may not use the phrases “Trending on Pinterest” or “Trending Pin(s)”
Whew, that’s a lot to remember! Some of these rules are contest specific, some are Pinterest’s “brand use guidelines”. Regardless, you DO have to follow ALL of them.
Okay, so with that all in mind. How do we create a contest that people can enter, without being spammy, and have it provide any value to us, as entrepreneurs needing to grow their Pinterest presence, at all?
Here’s my step-by step guide, but you’ll need to customize the actual contest part to your unique audience and brand.
Step 1) This is pretty obvious, but first decide what you want the Prize to be. Make it something substantial and appealing so people will want to get involved in the contest.
Step 2) Decide on where you’d like to promote your contest. My advice is to NOT promote it ON Pinterest. Utilize your other social platforms. Here are a few ideas of how and where to promote – but make sure you are adhering to the TOS of whatever platform you decide to use!
- Make a Facebook Page post and boost it
- Post in your FB Groups where allowed
- Create a Facebook Event and invite your friends to it
- Do a Facebook Live and announce the contest
- Create A Graphic (with the contest info) to accompany all your posts and ask your friends to share it
- Create a contest announement graphic for Instagram
- Snap/Periscope about the contest
- Send an email to your subscriber list, and be sure to include a graphic with the details
- Blog about the contest: again include a graphic!
- Post the link to wherever you are primarily focusing your promotion of the contest on your website, in your social media biographies, in your emails, etc.
Step 3) This is the important part, and you’ll need to think about this before actually doing any promotion – in order to have all your info together to present in graphics, videos, and what-not.
Decide how to run the contest.
Well, duh, right. I mean, that’s why you are reading this! Okay – here’s my two cents. Because you can’t require people to pin a specific pin as an entry, and because you can’t allow people to make more than one entry, and you can’t do other things which make it difficult to track who actually has entered the contest without traipsing ALL over Pinterest to check if people have entered, here’s my easy peasy way to run a Pinterest contest.
Create a group board on YOUR own account.
That’s right. Don’t ask people to pin to their own accounts. You can’t control what they pin anyway, which means they don’t even have to pin your content or your product to enter. So if they pin on their own accounts, something that doesn’t relate to your business, how will that bring you traffic?
BUT, if you OWN the board that the contest particpants need to pin on, then YOUR account name will show up anytime anyone pins to that board – regardless of whether the pin is relevant to your business or not. And that does have the potential to bring your Pinterest account traffic, which in turn can bring your business traffic.
Ask people to pin quality images on a certain topic.
According to Pinterest rules, it is OK to ask them to pin from a selection of pins or website – so in theory you can even have them pin from another of your boards or your website, as long as there is more than 1 pin to choose from. Ideally, there should be lots of pinnable images to choose from to avoid having the same image pinned over and over and being flagged as spam. This is why pinning on a topic instead is ideal.
Put the contest rules and contest deadline in the board description.
Be clear on the contest rules, that it is not endorsed or sponsored by Pinterest, and that only 1 entry counts, etc. Also, include how to get an invite to the group board.
Send invites to the group board to your Pinterest contacts
Invite anyone you want. They may or may not join, but it’s a start!
Do NOT pick a winner at random.
Since Pinterest aims to provide high quality, beautiful pins to users, ask for quality over quantity (remember more pins can’t get a participant extra entries). Choose a winner based on some other requirement: Best Layout, Best Photo, Most Valuable Content, Most Inspirational, etc.
Clean up after the contest
Once the contest is over and you’ve selected a winner, you have to figure out what to do with the contest board. You can:
- leave the board visible as a group board
- remove all contributors and convert the Group Board to a permanent board on your page
- delete the board
- toggle the board secret
Each option has it’s own Pros and Cons…
Leave the board as a group board.
Pro: you can still pin to it and everyone on the board and their followers could then potentially see your added pins
Con: Contributors have continued access to pin to the board whatever they’d like and you’ll need to moderate these pins
Remove all contributors and convert to permanent board.
Pro: You can still pin to it without having to allow others to pin to it as well. All added pins by contributors STAY on the board. *I’d recommend deleting duplicate pins if you choose this option*
Con: Your potential pin reach for this board will be the same as your potential reach for all other boards, no additional boost by having collaborators.
Delete the board.
Pro: You won’t have a potentially unbranded board hanging out with all of your other boards
Con: You lose the pin content that was on the board and the potential reach of those pins to bring traffic to your account.
Toggle the board secret.
Pro: You won’t have a potentially unbranded board hanging out with all of your other boards. You can toggle it public again in the future for other contests and simply continue to add to the board’s pins.
Con: You lose the pin content that was on the board and the potential reach of those pins to bring traffic to your account – UNTIL you toggle it public again.
The method I’ve outlined above isn’t the ONLY way to run a contest on Pinterest. You can always ask participants to pin to their own boards, but again then the burden of finding these pins and tracking entries is a lot greater with little to no added boost in traffic to your own account (depending on what they decide to pin to enter the contest). You’ll need to decide whether this method or some other variant is best for you, your brand image, and your target audience.
However you decide to run the contest, DO keep in mind the rules listed at the top of this article, and I DO highly recommend you take the promoting OFF Pinterest and find other ways to get the word out about your contest.
That all said, be creative, have fun, and good luck!
PIN FOR LATER!