7 Ways to Host a Killer Contest on Pinterest


contest on pinterest

Whether you are just starting out on Pinterest or want to inject some excitement into your online marketing efforts, try hosting a Pinterest contest!

Pinterest contests are a great way to increase engagement and even get more sales. Contests have been shown to increase website traffic and will help build “buzz” and attention around your brand.

Any business, large or small, can run a successful Pinterest contest – as long as it is well-planned and geared towards their customers and clients. So what are you waiting for?

Here are my top 7 ways to host a killer contest on Pinterest.

1. Follow the Pinterest Guidelines.

This is the most important rule. Check out the Pinterest Brand Guidelines to find out what is permissible and what is not allowed when creating your Pinterest contest.

Some rules that that may surprise you:

  • No sweepstakes. Businesses are not allowed to run a “sweepstakes”, where each Pin, board, like or follow represents an entry. This means that a winner cannot be chosen at random. For your contest, make sure that in your guidelines you state that boards will be judged on creativity, uniqueness, etc.
  • No voting. Pinterest users are not allowed to get people to vote on a winner with their Pins, boards, or likes.
  • Create an original name. You cannot call your contest a “Pin it to win it” contest.

There are still many ways you can run a successful contest without running afoul of these guidelines.

What you can do:

  • Ask contest entrants to use a hashtag.

The American Red Cross created a simple contest called “Walk It. Pin It. Win It.” where they asked entrants to take photos of their favorite walking paths. Entrants could pin the photo anywhere they liked on their own Pinterest boards, while adding the hashtag #walkit in the description.

This approach is very easy – there are no detailed guidelines or boards to create! The Red Cross then repinned their favorites and the contest winners’ photos onto their own Pinterest account.

  • Ask for repins.

Ask pinners to repin items from a specific board.

Repin to Win Contest

Repin to Win Contest

You can also ask contest entrants to repin a specific pin, and then to go an outside website to complete the entry.

National Supply Builder Pinterest Contest

National Supply Builder Pinterest Contest

  • Ask pinners to create boards.

A good way to get engagement is to require contest entrants create a Pinterest board around a specific topic. You can choose the name of the board or let pinners choose their own name.

Robbins Brothers Pinterest Contest

Robbins Brothers Pinterest Contest

When they create the board around the topic (example, Spring Fashion, Dream Vacation, Back to School), make sure that you require them to repin at least 5 pins from your account onto their new board.

2. Know your audience.

Hosting a Pinterest contest will not work if you do not understand your customers.

ModCloth knows that a lot of their customers use Pinterest to create boards around weddings and fashion. So, they created a specific contest around pinning items related to a dream wedding.

ModCloth Pinterest Contest

ModCloth Pinterest Contest

Personally I think it’s a lot of work for just a $ 100 gift card, but since their target audience is pinning these things anyway, why not do it to increase exposure and connection to ModCloth?

3. Make the contest easy to enter.

Make your contest incredibly easy to enter! The more obstacles to entry that you eliminate and the fewer hoops you require entrants to jump through the better.

Maybe you want to build your email list using this contest, so you could simply require a first name and email to enter.

An even simpler way is to what Gilt Home did (below) and simply require entrants to comment on a specific pin. Create a great graphic letting people know they just need to comment.

Gilt Pinterest Contest

Gilt Pinterest Contest

4. Collect information on entrants.

Creating a successful Pinterest contest will help you grow your customer base and those interested in your product. But what happens after the contest?

Consider collecting email addresses or more information on the entrants in order to market to them after the contest is over. Requiring registration can be a risk, but it will provide you with future marketing prospects.

You can easily create a landing page with leadpages.com that sends people directly to information about the contest. You do not want to send people to your main Pinterest account or you main website homepage, which will require them to click around and probably click away in frustration.

Visit Savannah created a specific landing page for their “Savannah No Boys Allowed” Pinterest Contest, where they required a Like on Facebook and a follow on Pinterest.

Savannah Pinterest Contest

Savannah Pinterest Contest

Collecting contact information on contest entrants depends on your goals for the contest, your overall marketing strategy and what your audience will tolerate. I suggest testing different types of contests and seeing what works best for your business and your customers.

5. Focus on great visuals.

Pinterest is an inherently visual social network, after all. In order to grab people’s attention, your graphics and visuals must be colorful and eye-catching.

The Container Store Pinterest Contest

The Container Store Pinterest Contest

You can put the specific contest information within the graphic, or focus on the visual and put the details in the caption.

Motel 6 Pinterest Contest

Motel 6 Pinterest Contest

6. Have a great incentive.

Giveaway contests are a great way to incentivize current and potential customers to enter your contest.

Make the giveaway or prize very relevant to your audience. For example, if you are not a tech company, don’t give away an iPad. Everyone and their mother wants the new iPad, and that will not provide you with targeted followers.

Hawks Cay Pinterest Contest

Hawks Cay Pinterest Contest

Make the giveaway about your brand and your business – giveaway something that only you can give, and that your customers would really want!

7. Promote!

Do not assume that you will create a contest and that it will just go “viral”.

Share the contest with your email list, put a graphic on your website, promote it on other social networks, talk it up in your podcast, etc. Approach influential bloggers or online marketers about helping you spread the word.

Victoria’s Secret creates special tabs on their Facebook page and sends out emails to promote their Pinterest contests.

Victoria's Secret Pinterest Contest

Victoria’s Secret Pinterest Contest

A successful Pinterest contest takes a bit of forethought, planning and work, but it can be well worth the rewards!

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