7 Tips for Running a Pinterest Contest

7 Tips for Running a Pinterest Contest

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pinterest contestRunning Pinterest contests are getting more complicated every day and with Pinterest’s new contest guidelines you’ll find you can no longer run a simple giveaway using pins as entries. Now Pinterest contests have to be about quality over quantity, and they need to showcase Pinterest and its love of pretty pictures.

I just ran my first Pinterest-based giveaway for my blog and it was definitely more tricky than running a normal sweepstakes. Here are some tips on running a Pinterest contest that complies with their rules and that won’t make you crazy.

1. Run Your Contest Exclusively On Pinterest

A lot of giveaways have multiple ways to earn an entry, but it’s clear that Pinterest wants no part of this. Don’t have entries through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Either run your contest entirely on Pinterest or exclude Pinterest from your giveaway altogether.

2. Asking For a Follow Is Still Okay

Following you on Pinterest shouldn’t be an entry in and of itself, but you should make it a prerequisite for entry. One great perk of hosting a giveaway on your blog or website is getting more traffic, readers and followers, so if you want to use it to increase your Pinterest followers, go for it.

Keep track of your entries by having particpants repin a contest pin.

3. Have a Simple Way to Organize Entries

As I mentioned, hashtags promised to be an easy way to find entries but it didn’t work the way it should. Having contestants create a board is probably your easiest bet for both your readers to put their entry together and for you to keep track of and judge the entries. It also works best with Pinterest’s goal: to have users pin great content.

You have two easy choices: 1) Using your website or blog as “base”, either have entrants leave a link to their board in the blog comments or use a tool like Rafflecopter to collect this information; or 2) Require the repin of your giveaway pin. While Pinterest doesn’t want people to be limited in what they can pin, having a single pin you can use to track down other pins is great. Plus it will help raise the visibility of your giveaway. Just beware: Pinterest does not want people pinning giveaway rules. So make the pin you’re basing entries around something pin-worthy by itself.

4. Choose Winners Based on Merit

No more random winners. Say goodbye to random.org, now you need to reward someone for their awesome board. So make sure you set clear guidelines. What should they pin? What should their board look like? How will you judge the winner? Leave room for individuality and awesome pinning skills. Don’t require them to repin a bunch of stuff off of your own board or a brand’s board.

If you’re a blogger who knows your readers well, I’d recommend you bring in a 3rd party to judge. If you’re working with a brand, bring the brand in to pick a winner. This was definitely the hardest part of running my giveaway. I opted to narrow the entries down to 3 and then send those off to the brand. But just picking 3 was very tough.

5. Make Sure the Prize is Worth It

Pinterest giveaways take work, you shouldn’t expect as many entries as you would in a giveaway you run through comments or Facebook. So make sure your prize is something people will be willing to work for.

My giveaway was for a pair of glasses from Fetch Eyewear, something a lot of people need and something worth a decent amount of money. Going with Pinterest was a way to highlight the unique and classic style of the brand, a big part of why I reviewed them. And if you’re talking style, Pinterest is a great fit.

A good fit is really important. Pinterest is a great place for food, clothes, home decor and so much more. Giving away a great kitchen appliance? Have people pin the dishes they want to make. Giving away a high-value gift card? Have people pin what they want to buy. If you’re giving away a set of toothbrushes… maybe go another route.

6. Run Your Giveaway For Over a Week

Because people have to work harder to enter, they won’t all enter right away. Post a lot of reminders on Twitter and Facebook, remind people in subsequent posts, and make sure they have enough time to get it done. It’s not always easy to walk the line between being annoying and encouraging, so make sure you don’t push too hard or too easy.

My own board, modeled for my contest entrants.
My own Fetch Style board, modeled for my contest entrants.

7. Model Your Own Board

Your rules need to be clear and easy to understand. The easiest way to do that: make a board of your own to show your readers what you’re looking for. Since you’ll be judging on merit, having your readers create a board will make your job easier. And don’t be too strict when it comes to what they have to call it or what has to be on it. Give them a lot of room to play and use your own board to show them just how inventive they can be.

My contest had readers pin 2 pairs of glasses and then show me their style through the board they built. Here’s what I told them: “I built myself a nice little Fetch Style Pinterest Board and that’s going to be your mission, should you choose to accept it. Finding the right frames means finding something that fits your style, or maybe the style you want to have. Here’s a peek at my Fetch Style board. I pinned the Alex and the Sadie and then went crazy in all directions. Not just clothes and shoes and jewelry, but where I want to go in my frames and the puppy I’d like to take on a walk in them.” By going a little crazy myself, I was telling my readers that there were no real limits, just to do some awesome pinning and to give themselves a basic theme through the glasses. Great exposure for the brand, easy for the contestants.

And make sure whenever you run a giveaway you have a clear set of official rules.

Finally, keep in mind the Pinterest guidelines give you an overview of what they want. The biggest thing to remember is to make your giveaway use Pinterest as it’s intended: to be a showcase for images. If your giveaway keeps that in mind, you’ll definitely be Pinterest-friendly.

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About Jessica Severson

Jessica Severson is a lapsed lawyer, a blogger, a teacher, a speaker and a Twitter fiend. Her personal blog is Don't Mind the Mess, she curates book reviews at Red Letter Reads and runs a site on the best baby & kid products at Crayons & Coupons.

3 thoughts on “7 Tips for Running a Pinterest Contest

  1. But when it comes to contests, Pinterest is a rule hater’s dream network. In fact, it wasn’t until Pinterest launched business accounts recently that the social network even had a set of official rules or guidelines for running contests, and it’s definitely one of the more flexible social networks in this respect.

    1. I’d argue that Twitter is the rule hater’s dream network. Pinterest seems much less flexible since this latest update to the rules.

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