How to Run an Effective Pinterest Contest for Your Business – Updated

*Updated 4/24/14

Pinterest has changed the guidelines for running contests. Big changes include banning using pins, comments and likes as entries or votes. Make sure to check the Pinterest contest guidelines when planning your own contest. Also, the FTC has indicated that pinning at request may constitute an endorsement requiring disclosure. Get the details and stay tune.

After reading our blog post on Pinterest for Business and Eight Tips for Pinterest Business Success, you have your boards in place, you’ve uploaded quality content and you even have a few followers.  Great! So, what’s next? Growing your followers and keeping established followers engaged. One of the latest trends for business owners to do just that is the Pinterest contest.

Why You Should Run a Pinterest Contest

AMC Pinterest Contest Win a Surfboard AMC sends users to their website to enter to win, so they’re not only driving traffic to their site, but they’re also collecting email addresses!

The benefits to having a contest on Pinterest are plentiful. Here are just a few:

  • Getting new followers
  • Adding subscribers to your email list
  • Increasing awareness of your brand
  • Improving engagement
  • Growing your traffic, and by extension – sales

The first step after you have decided to launch a contest, is to to determine what your goals are. Do you simply want to gain followers or do you want to promote your products? Over-complicating a contest with multiple objectives will only confuse participants and result in fewer entries. No matter the type of contest, entrants should be asked to Follow your boards.

Now that your goal is clearly in mind, it’s time to choose your contest.  Here are a few popular contest styles you can use to promote your business:

Type of Pinterest Contests:

I. Pin  or Follow to Win*

This is one of the most common types of contest being utilized and for good reason. It’s simple to create, easy to participate and when pins are embedded with a link to your website, will effortlessly drive traffic back to your business.

Be creative with this contest. It can be as simple as requiring followers to “repin” images from your business page, but a multi-step contest can increase visibility.  For example, ask contestants to:

  1. Create a board with your brand name as the title (have them add you as a contributor – this alerts you that someone has created a board).
  2. Repin images to this board from your Pinterest business boards or website. Be sure to include links in your pins to your website – without a link you will miss out on driving traffic back to your website.
  3. Get likes and repins from your followers
Another option allows for more creativity by the contestants – ask for the most creative or interesting board with the theme being – your business.  Either have them use a unique hashtag, so you can search for all created boards, have them email you or fill out a form to submit their board URL, or have them make you a contributor to their board.  Any of these methods will help you find all the entries.
The easiest of all awards a prize to a random repinner or follower.

II. Rewards for Giving Feedback and Promoting Brand Products

Kraft Pinterest Rules Kraft does a great job making it simple to enter. They also ask entrants to use the hashtag #kraft – just another way to up exposure! Smart, very smart.

Having a difficult time deciding which products to promote for next season? Why not let a Pinterest contest do the work for you? Create a board that includes images of your proposed products and ask participants to leave comments* on which products are their favorites and why. Award one commenter a prize – the product with the most comments! This feedback is invaluable, since it’s coming straight from prospective customers.

III. Photo Contests

Ask entrants to pin photos of themselves using your product or services.  This could be to a board they create, or to one you’ve created.  You can be notified of boards others create if they invite you to be a contributor to that board.

Choosing a Prize

The larger the prize, the more incentive it provides to participants. A good gauge to deciding the value of your reward is the complexity of the contest. Does your contest involve multiple steps and thus more time from the fan? You might choose to entice them with a prize proportionate to the amount of time required on their part. If you’re simply asking them to become a follower or repin an image, a simple prize will suffice.

Publishing the Rules of your Pinterest Contest

Publish the rules on your website, but link to them from your contest board.  The easiest to follow are those that give a simple step-by-step instruction list to participants. Pinterest gives a lot more leeway than Facebook when it comes to contest rules, but you may want to check their Terms of Service just to make sure. Since scams are showing up on Pinterest, the terms are bound to change in time.

Choosing a Winner.

Your method of choosing a winner will differ depending on your rules*.  An easy and fair way to choose a random winner is to use Random.

5 Tips For Getting The Most Out of Your Pinterest Contest

  • Use a catchy name for your contest
  • Promote your contest on other social media sites you may be using for marketing such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Be sure to do this on a regular basis until the contest ends.
  • Double check to make sure your links will direct traffic to your website.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Have fun and be creative. Unlike Facebooks strict rules on contests, Pinterest allows you to be more creative. You may want to be up to date with Pinterest Terms and Conditions, but you will likely find they leave you plenty of room to tailor the contest to your business’ needs.

Get Some ‘Pinspiration’

 Pinterest Biz keeps a board of Pinterest Contests and case studies of Pinterest contests.  Check it out to get some ideas on what you could try for your business! Find more inspiration on these boards:

You may find that holding a contest quarterly will reap profitable results for your company. Whatever contest you choose, keep it simple and easy to participate, then sit back and watch your contest go viral!

Your turn!  Have you entered a Pinterest contest yet?  If so, what did you think of the experience, and of course, did you win?  Please tell us below!

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About the Author Tina Gammon (31 Posts)

With six years experience in managing a small business and many more enjoying creative writing as a hobby, Tina is happy to use both as part of the Scalable Social Media team.Tina believes that if you understand something well, you can explain it simply, so that’s her aim here. How’s she doing? Let her know in the comments! When she’s not blogging for Scalable you might find her behind a camera or hiking in Europe.


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