Pin It to Win It! How to Run a Pinterest Contest

pin to win

Pinterest has been around long enough that by now, you’ve likely seen several “Pin It to Win It” contests being run by brands. That is, if you haven’t actually run one yourself. Brands turn to running promotions on Pinterest partly because of the uniquely visual experience and affluent ready-to-purchase audience and partly because it often takes money and outside resources to launch a promotion on Facebook. But many don’t realize that Pinterest actually has similar-to-Facebook-rules for running promotions.

“Pin It to Win It” contests ensure that your brand’s content will be plastered across Pinterest, right? Well, not so fast. In the last couple months, Pinterest updated their guidelines for running contests on Pinterest and now have several “don’ts” they encourage you to follow. We haven’t yet heard of any business getting their Pinterest contest shut down or being reprimanded, but with the platform growing, we wouldn’t be surprised if they start regulating their users more.

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Here are the updated “don’ts” taken straight from the Pinterest website, followed by our feedback on them:

Don’t:

  1. Suggest that Pinterest sponsors or endorses you or the contest: This one’s pretty obvious and Facebook has the same guideline, though Facebook takes it one step further and insists you blatantly write that they do not endorse the contest.
  2. Require people to pin from a selection: let them pin their own stuff: This one’s tougher. After all, a majority of Pinterest contests we see tell people to pin a specific number of images from the brand’s website or Pinterest board. Of course, you can still show people where this pin-able contest lives, but you can’t require them to pin it in order to win the contest.
  3. Make people pin or repin your contest rules. This is a biggie: We see a lot of brands breaking this rule, too, and as you can see, Pinterest labels it as a “biggie.” It seems like a no-brainer to ask entrants to re-pin your pin featuring contest rules. Then the board becomes fully branded and their followers can easily learn how to enter the promotion, as well. But you can’t require this for entrants to win. The bright side? We notice that many Pinterest users will still pin the rules pin even when not required to.
  4. Run a sweepstakes where each pin, repin, board, like or follow represents an entry: Just like Facebook doesn’t want you asking for “likes,” comments, and shares for entries, Pinterest doesn’t want to see you bribing users for engagement.
  5. Encourage spammy behavior, such as asking participants to comment: Same as above. Pinterest wants comments to be genuine and not made because someone wants to win a prize.
  6. Ask pinners to vote with pins, repins, boards, or likes: Oftentimes, brands will choose winners to their Pinterest contests based on how many re-pins, “likes,” etc. their pins and boards get. This turns into a popularity contest and Pinterest is saying no. Winners of contests should be based on the quality of their entries and not how popular the person is or how many pins they crammed into their board. We recommend setting up judging criteria and having your brand’s team choose a winner based on the criteria you set forth.
  7. Overdo it: contests can get old fast: So, we don’t think this is necessarily a “rule” and doubt Pinterest will lay down the law on this one. But Pinterest is about sharing and that should be your main objective on the platform. A contest every so often can mix things up and be fun for your customers, but it shouldn’t be all you’re doing.
  8. Require a minimum number of pins. One is plenty: Another rule that gets broken all the time

Pinterest ends their list of requirements by noting, “If you use Pinterest as part of a contest or sweepstakes, you are responsible for making sure it complies with all legal requirements. This includes writing the official rules, offer terms and eligibility requirements (ex: age and residency restrictions), and complying with marketing regulations (ex:, registration requirements and regulatory approvals). These rules can vary from place to place, so please work with a lawyer or other expert to make sure you’re in compliance.” That’s right- all Pinterest contests should have a set of rules that go along with them and these rules should be reviewed, if not written, by someone with a legal background.

We know. It’s kind of a bummer that a platform that was once so easy to launch a promotion on has become a bit more difficult. But at least you don’t need to build your Pinterest promotions on a separate tab or need any developing skills to launch.

Has your brand been following Pinterest’s contest guidelines or do you need to start re-thinking how you run promotions on the platform?

Susan Anderson

Susie Anderson is Vice President of Social Media and Influencer Relations!

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