Running a Pinterest Contest: Why Your Rules Shouldn’t Be at the Heart of It

Running a Pinterest Contest: Why Your Rules Shouldn’t Be at the Heart of It

Before I dive into how you should run a Pinterest contest, I should probably disclose to you upfront that I have never personally aided in, or ran a Pinterest contest.  That being said, I am one of only a few avid male Pinterest users (look me up here), so I write this not only as an internet marketer, but as a regular Pinterest user.

Pinterest, like so many social networks before it is forcing marketers and businesses alike to really scratch their heads and recognize how to best utilize the platform.  Like Facebook and networks before it, one of the first means of spreading brand awareness on the network seems to be the use of contests.  But if you’re going to run a Pinterest contest in a way that best serves the community, you need to do it in a way that won’t disrupt the community.  So if you’re thinking of running a Pinterest contest, consider the following:

Don’t Use a Contest Image

While I understand that companies want to get their promotional contest in front of as many eyes as possible, an image chock full of your contest rules isn’t doing much to serve the community.  I can’t tell you how many pinterest contest rules have popped up in my following feed and have annoyed the hell out of me.  In my opinion it’s almost as annoying as the spam pins telling me how I can lose weight with some magical weight loss program used by the celebrity pinned.

Below is an example from a Cost Plus World Market contest from a few months back and as you can see, a specific rule is to pin the rules.

Cost Plus World Market Pinterest Contest Image

Instead of pinning an image of the rules, why not integrate a rule to include a specific description explaining the contest and link in the board description or in the pin descriptions.  At least this allows you to promote the contest without intruding on the community.

Utilize Contest Specific Boards

Contest specific boards are going to make it easier for you to track your participants, and even easier for participants to make sure that whatever pin collection you are having them create is themed and easily accessible for themselves and their followers.  It also ensures that whatever it is you are trying to promote will be found in a single collection as opposed to spread out across a sea of Pinterest boards.  In the example below from Walmart Green, they may break the first rule of Pinterest contest club they do at least make users utilize a specific board for the contest.  This not only helps categorize the pins, but also alerts their followers that they are participating in a contest, which is a means of promotion in and of itself.

Walmart Green Pin to Win Contest

Make use of Hashtags

Another positive from the Walmart Green Pinterest contest is the use of the hashtag.  Like on other social networks hashtags help to group items together and are clickable in a description and will provide search results for all listings with the hashtag.  Again, this not only helps you as a business keep track of who’s participating, but it helps users see other pins within the collection that may interest them.

Encourage Pins of Your Own Content

While this may seem like a no brainer, and a staple of Pinterest contests I would strongly recommend you push users to use your own imagery, or imagery related to the contest to help fuel the board’s pins.  Not only will this help create a long term resource for Pinterest users, but it will also allow for long term traffic opportunities to your website well after the contest is over.  Zillow and Pulte homes recently utilized this as a bonus element to their “I want a new home sweepstakes”.  Entrants could earn up to $5,000 bonus cash for creating a “Dream Home” board using imagery from the Zillow and Pulte websites.

Rules and examples from Zillow's Pinterest contest

However, Pinterest is about inspiration.  It’s origins are rooted in creating a place for people to pin things from across the web that inspire them, or can help them achieve something.  So why not take your contest a step further and encourage users to pin images of how they use your product, or how it helped them.  Sure, you probably have some great professional images of your products, but how much more inspiring will it be if your users can see your product being used as it was inteded.  If applicable, consider having users upload their own imagery of your product in action as contest pins that help inspire other users.

Ultimately Pinterest is still very much in its infancy, so how people use Pinterest and how businesses use Pinterest is sure to evolve, but like any social network the key is to become one with the community.  If you serve your community, the community will serve you, especially if you’re pinning and promotion exceptional content.  If you still haven’t taken the plunge with Pinterest, here are some useful links that might help you get going:



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