10 Tips to Pin Your Way to a Perfect Pinterest Contest

Jillean Kearney
Jillean Kearney
Nov 26, 2014

Facebook contests are the worst. There are way too many rules, regulations and hoops to jump through. But there’s a lot of room for contesting creativity on Pinterest, which is why the social network has become our favorite place for brands to dole out prizes.

The site recently rolled out its official set of contest rules and guidelines with the launch of its business accounts. They're way more flexible than many other social networks. The rules and guideline can be found at Logos, Trademarks and Marketing Guidelines. Contests also have to adhere to Pinterest’s general Terms of Service and legal requirements.

Other than Pinterest's official rules and terms, here's what you need to know to pin your way to a perfect Pinterest contest.

1. Begin with a Pin

A great way to kick off a Pinterest giveaway is with a contest image, one that has to be pinned to all entrant's qualifying pinboards - but it has to be eye-catching and pin-worthy. It has to look good. A pinnable contest image should include a logo, a call to action and prize info. Pinners need to immediately get what's going on when they see it.

Weddingbells magazine's 'Pin to Win Your Wedding Wine' contest asked entrants to include this image on their qualifying pinboards. It's pretty, concise and it represents the 'Weddingbells' brand.

It's also important to include some info when you first pin the image to your own Pinterest board to add a relevant description, hash-tagged keywords and a link back to your website with all relevant info. This leads me to my next point.

2. The Landing Page

It's really important to have a contest landing page on your website, one that breaks down - step by step - everything that entrants have to do to qualify, terms and conditions and any legal details. It also helps to include things that will disqualify someone, terms and conditions and how the winner will be chosen. The more people understand how things work, the fewer confused or angry emails you'll get. A great example is Modcloth's 'Something Modcloth, Something You' contest.

3. Keep it Simple

I think this one goes without saying, but it shouldn't be difficult for people to enter a contest. A good way to do this is to max out requirements at three. Don't ask entrants to create a new pinboard, pin ten items from your website, re-pin five more from your pinboard, fill out an entry form, follow you on Facebook, subscribe to your newsletter and share the contest with five other friends. That's asking too much. Women's Health Magazine held a successful Pinterest contest last summer. The Sparkling Summer with Women's Health and Forevermark contest awarded a trip to the Hamptons.

Entrants had to:

1. Create a pinboard titled 'Sparkling Summer with Forevermark and Women's Health'.

2. Pin pics of favorite summer products, workouts, recipes, clothes and inspiration - at least one pin from Forevermark's website.

3. Fill out an entry form.

The fewer steps entrants need to take, the more entries you'll receive.

4. Make it Worth it

You'll also receive more entries based on the value of the prize. Not every prize has to be a car, like Real Simple's 'Driven by Design: Design Your Dodge Dart Dream Garage', but the best way to insure that people will take the time to participate in your contest is to offer a high-value prize.

Gift certificates and shopping sprees of high value are all good ways to go to attract attention and create incentive.

5. Set Goals

The benefits of hosting a Pinterest contest include racking up new followers, bigger brand awareness, a boost in traffic and more. Maybe you specifically want to enlist more email subscribers or collect info about your users. Whatever your goals are, it's important that your whole team has a clear understanding about why you're doing what you're doing.

AMC, the movie theatre chain, is a great example of using Pinterest giveaways with a specific set goal. The company uses their dedicated pinboard for giveaways - that rewards movie buffs with signed merchandise, free tickets and the like - to collect customer info and preferences. Each pin links to a landing page that includes an entry form where entrants fill out their info. The contest is easy to enter, straight to the point and both brand and user get what they want.

The goals that you pin down will determine what kind of contest that you run.

6. Pick and Choose

A common pin-to-win contest for magazines is 'Pin Your Dream [Fill in the Blank]'. Entrants pin photos from the magazines website to depict their dream wedding, wardrobe, etc. A panel of judges then choose the best pinboard as the victor. Better Home and Garden's 'Pin Your Dream Home' contest is a great example of this. Each entrant has to create a pinboard and pin photos from the magazine's website that depicts what they're dream home. The benefit of this is that your content will be all over Pinterest which will increase traffic back to your website.

Another common giveaway - although more common with brands but could totally work for fashion and lifestyle mags - is a Pinterest popularity contest.The point of this type of contest is to generate re-pins. Users vote for who they think should win by re-pinning and liking pins. The entry with the most votes wins.

My favorite example of this type of contest is High Point Market's Style Spotter contest. High Point, which organizes furniture trade shows, asked trendsetter with an eye for home fashion to pin their favorite looks from its trade shows to the the brand's board. Each pin included the exhibitor's name and showroom number. In exchange the exhibitor received a sign with the Style Spotter's name, a QR code and URL to the Pinterest board to promote the contest. The Style Spotter with the most pins and likes won a free trip to the High Point Market.

Another great concept is to get users to snap their own photos to pin for an expert panel to judge or for users to vote for. General Electric ran one of these contests - which I cover in tip seven.

7. Get the Most Bang For Your Buck

General Electric’s ‘The “Next GE Instagrapher’ contest didn’t originally start out on Pinterest. It was launched on Instagram in November 2011, then made its way to Facebook before landing on its own dedicated pinboard. The company leveraged multiple social networks to achieve the biggest reach for the campaign.

The goal of the contest was to find GE’s next photographer to snap and share photos depicting the four areas of research that the company is known for developing - moving, building, curing and powering. Each entrant shared their shots on Instagram with the hashtag #GEinspiredME. Entries were featured in a gallery on GE’s Facebook page where users could vote for their favorite. The finalists were then evaluated by a panel of judges and the winner booked a free vacay to the UK. The top photos were then featured on in the top photos in a dedicated pinboard on its Pinterest account.

8. Crown the Queen Bee

It's always a good idea to let users know when you've chosen a winner. This will also cut down on the number of confused and angry emails that you receive. It also doesn't hurt to show-off your winner to boost up morale for your next Pinterest contest.

9. Keep an Eye on the Numbers

With anything online, it's essential to measure results and make sure that your initial goals are achieved. If you set out to gain more Pinterest followers, set up a spreadsheet to keep track on a weekly basis.

If you set out to drive traffic, keep an eye on referral from Pinterest in your analytics. Keep track on a weekly basis.

By keeping track, it's easy to see if what you're doing is working or not. Tweaks can be made to keep your results inline with your goals - maybe re-work the entry requirement or change up the theme.

10. Do it all Over Again

Not much else to say except that by the second time you decide to host a Pinterest contest, you'll be a seasoned pro.

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