How to Run a Pinterest Contest

Get your hands on this simple guide to help you run a Pinterest contest. Get started in just 5 minutes.

When it comes to online promotion, Pinterest is often neglected by brands in favour of other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A lot of this comes down to the fact that Pinterest is yet to reach the same number of active users as these other platforms, but that doesn't mean that Pinterest can't still serve as an incredibly powerful platform for promoting your brand and connecting with your audience.

If you're looking for a fantastic way to drive powerful actions that will engage and grow your audience on Pinterest then running a contest should be at the top of your to-do list, and with Gleam's low cost, high impact Competitions app putting together your own contest has never been easier.

To help you get started we're going to take you through everything you need to know to run your very own Pinterest contest, but before we dive into that let's take a look at exactly why Pinterest contests are so effective.

Pinterest is a highly social and collaborative platform that is filled with user-submissions and peer-to-peer sharing. Pinterest's social, cooperative and creative atmosphere make it the perfect platform for eliciting engagement and developing stronger relationships with your audience, and there's no better way to do this than by running an online contest. This is especially the case if your brand deals with fashion, home design, crafts, cooking, or anything else with a bit of creative flair.

In addition to being an excellent way to engage users and attract attention, Pinterest contests come equipped with a number of other unique benefits that highlight just how impactful the platform can be.

Did you know that 80% of Pinterest users are female? This makes Pinterest a rather unique social network, and one which is particularly attractive if you're trying to engage a primarily female audience.

So if you're a brand who sells women's clothing, accessories, beauty products, homewares or anything else with a female-led target audience then maintaining an active Pinterest presence is something you definitely don't want to neglect.


At its core, Pinterest is a creative curation site built around creating and sharing. Users share ideas for events, recipes, costumes and all sorts of other creative projects. Many even use the platform as an idea board or planning tool.

The highly involved nature of these common Pinterest activities just goes to show how the platform's users tend to interact with the site in a very active way, as opposed to a passive one. This level of involvement has lead to Pinterest developing a highly engaged user base who are likely to get involved with interactive campaigns like contests. This will lead to high participation rates and lots of user engagement, which is great sign for any contest.

In addition to being an outstanding way to engage your existing audience, Pinterest contests are also a great way to introduce new consumers to your brand or Pinterest page.

Pinterest is an aspirational lifestyle platform, so brands who are able to provide inspiration and ideas are often able to attract a sizeable following. This is especially true of brands who actively seek out new audiences by running contests designed to encourage the spread of high-quality branded content.

A contest can still be effective even if it doesn't feature your product directly. It will still generate brand awareness and give users a reason to interact with you and think of you in the future.

In addition to being a great way to generate awareness and engagement, Pinterest contests are also very well suited to promoting a particular offering or occasion.

If you're launching a new product or hosting a sale then contests can be a cost-effective way to amplify your promotional reach on Pinterest and expose your offering to a larger audience. This is a great way to achieve multiple marketing objectives at once, as you will be able to engage your audience while simultaneously netting some free promotion.

Engagement and awareness aren't the only things you can generate by running a contest on Pinterest. User-Generated Content is a powerfully authentic, relatable and engaging marketing tool that any business can benefit from using. If you ask your audience to submit their own Pins or Boards as a part of a contest you'll be able to generate loads of high-quality UGC engaging your audience whilst doing it.

Now that you've seen some of the powerful benefits that Pinterest contest's can offer you're probably feeling ready to start planning and running your very own contest. We're going to walk you through exactly how you can do that, but before you run a Pinterest contest it's important that you familiarise yourself with the platform's community guidelines for running a contest. We advise that you take a look through the rules and guidelines yourself, but here's a brief overview:

  • If you run your contest on Pinterest, you cannot allow more than one entry per person.
  • You cannot require users to Pin a specific image. You must give people the ability to choose Pins based on their own tastes and preferences, even if it's from a selection or a given website.
  • Make sure you post relevant content to relevant boards. Avoid posting about your contest on a board that has nothing to do with it.
  • Avoid spammy behaviour. This includes repeatedly posting the same content, asking users to do the same, or requiring users to repin the contest rules.
  • Do not suggest that Pinterest sponsors or endorses you or the promotion.

There are a lot of different types of contests you can run on Pinterest, and if you really want to make the most of your campaign then it's important that you pick the type that's right for you. The type of contest you run should be determined by your overall objectives. Are you trying to engage your existing followers or grow your audience? Are you hoping to promote a specific offering or generate content and feedback? Whatever your goals may be there's a type of Pinterest contest for you.

The first types of contest that we'll cover are what we like to call frictionless contests. Frictionless contests are a common type of Pinterest contest that allows users to enter the campaign directly from Pinterest without having to submit any additional personal information. Because of this, frictionless contests generally have low barriers to entry and are very easy for users to participate in.

A downside of these contests is that you will not be able to collect any identifiable or marketable information about your users such as email addresses. It's because of this that frictionless contests are better suited for short campaigns which provide instant engagement as opposed to driving long-term revenue and growth.

We'll show you how you can run more comprehensive Pinterest contests soon, but first let's take a look at a few frictionless contests you can run to drive some instant engagement.

The easiest type of Pinterest contest you can run is a simple "Pin to Win" contest. These contests simply require users to select one or multiple images from a selection you provide and repin them for a chance to win.

Pin To Win Contests are an outstanding way to promote your brand or a particular offering by encouraging your audience to display your content for their own following to see. These contests can also provide you with valuable customer feedback if you monitor which images your audience tends to gravitate towards.

If you do decide to run this type of contest there are a few things you'll need to keep in mind. For your Pin To Win contest to be permissible, you must give users a range of image options and allow them to choose which they want to repin based on their own tastes and preferences. The easiest way to manage this is by setting up a board dedicated to your contest and filling it with images for your contestants to choose from.

If you want users to choose a single image then get them to repin the image with a contest-specific hashtag (this will make it easy for you to find entries). If you want your users to repin multiple images then instruct them to create a board, name it your hashtag of choice, and repin all images they choose to the board.

This type of contest is very similar to 'Pin to Win' contests, except instead of getting users to create a board of your own images you will ask them to create a board with any images that follow a theme or set of guidelines that you outline. It can be a good idea to encourage the use of a couple of your own images for good measure, and always pick your winners based on merit.

The primary function of 'Create a Pinterest Board' contests are to engage your users and develop your consumer relationships, but they can also enhance your marketing by providing insights and bolstering your online word-of-mouth. However, you must be aware of the extra effort these contests require on the user's behalf. You can typically expect a lower number of entries for this type of contest, so it's important to offer a valuable prize and engage in lots of promotional activities to really try to maximise participation.

A great way to collect and showcase user-generated content is by running a Pinterest contest which asks users to pin images following specific guidelines with a contest-specific hashtag. If you're a food company you could use this type of contest to source photos of what real people have cooked with your ingredients, or if you sell homewares or furniture you could collect images of how people have used your products to decorate their homes.

Once again, this type of contest will work best if you choose a winner based on merit. By rewarding users for putting in extra effort you will incentivise the creation of high-quality content which will make your contest more engaging and leave you with better UGC at the end of it.

If you really want to maximise the amount of content you receive it's advisable that you collect and display photos across multiple platforms instead of relying exclusively on Pinterest.

GoPro Awards photo contest on Pinterest

Feedback contests are a very straightforward and easy type of contest to run. They simply require users to comment on an image for a chance to win.

Contests like this are a great way to engage users while also acquiring valuable consumer feedback. You can ask questions about which of your products are the most popular, what products people would like to see in the future, or anything else you want to know.

These frictionless contests are all great ways to engage your audience, attract attention and promote your brand, but they aren't without their limitations. As we mentioned before, frictionless contests don't allow you to collect email addresses or drive multiple actions at once. If you do want to overcome these issues and enjoy an array of other benefits then you should seriously consider running this next type of contest.

The most powerful type of contest you can run to incentivise actions and drive Pinterest engagement is an In-App Contest, and with Gleam's Competitions App planning and running one has never been easier.

Running an In-App Pinterest Contest with Gleam isn't frictionless, as users will have to leave Pinterest (via a link you share), enter their email address or other details and complete a set of actions. This will barely make entrance harder for users, and by running this sort of contest you open up possibilities for all kinds of user-engagement and brand growth.

By running an In-App contest, you will still be able to drive many of the same actions you could with frictionless contests such as the submission of Pins and Boards, but with an In-App contest you have the ability to drive multiple actions at once. Also, when you run your Pinterest contest with Gleam, collecting email addresses from contestants to grow your mailing list is no longer a challenge, and administering entries, drawing winners and analysing user data all become much easier tasks.

To get a feel for what your own Pinterest contest could look like with Gleam check out our demo contest below:

The fact that users will have to leave Pinterest to enter this type of contest may seem like a drawback, but upon inspection, this really isn't the case.

Firstly, directing Pinterest users to your contest is as simple as Pinning an image with a link to the contest, and if you embed the contest on your own website then this is a fantastic way to drive website traffic.

Secondly, the fact that your contest is housed externally to Pinterest means that you can attract entrants from any number of other online sources, most notably your other social media channels, using Gleam's Visit Action. This is a terrific way to expose a huge online audience to your Pinterest account and potentially net yourself a huge amount of new followers.

One of the biggest decisions you will need to make when running a Pinterest Contest what type of entry actions you want to use, so to help you get started we're going to run you through some of your best options.

As we mentioned above, one of the most powerful actions you can use a contest to drive is Pinterest page visits. By letting users enter your contest by visiting your Pinterest page you will be able to draw in an audience from not only Pinterest, but all over the web. This can be a highly effective way to grow your following, as if your Pinterest page is filled with engaging content then the visitors you attract will likely want to come back for more.

Earlier we discussed the power of user-generated content and how you can use Pinterest contests to collect it. If this is your objective then you're going to want to use the Select a Pin action.

This action allows users to upload a hashtag restricted Pin as an entry action. You can leave your users instructions so they know exactly what type of content you're after, and Gleam neatly stores all submissions for you so manually choosing a winner is a breeze.

The Pins users upload must already exist on their profile, as you cannot incentivise users to create a new Pin. However, users looking to create the best content they can will often be inclined to do so anyway, especially if your winners are selected on merit.

The Select a Board action allows you accept Pinterest Boards from users as contest entries. This action can be a fantastic way to expose your brand to new users and showcase your offerings. You can ask users to choose images from your website, your Pinterest page, or even their own Pins and use them to create Boards which showcase your products or highlight why they love your brand.

This particular action is outstanding because it can be used to encourage users to create high-quality boards promoting your brand which will be put on display for all of their followers to see. This is a great way to not only reach a new audience but also make a stellar first impression on them.

You're probably active on social media channels besides Pinterest, so why not use your contest to promote some of them as well?

You can drive a variety of powerful actions across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, SoundCloud, Twitch, Tumblr and more. So whatever other platforms you use, you can drive their growth with a variety of powerful actions.

Email marketing is one of the most powerful promotional tools you have at your disposal. So if you have a weekly or monthly newsletter then it's definitely worth using your contest to grow your mailing list as well as your Pinterest following.

This is only a small selection of the actions available on Gleam, but when it comes to running a Pinterest contest they are the most powerful.

Once you have decided on the type of contest you want to run you'll be ready to start setting up your campaign and putting all the pieces in place to run a successful contest that will engage your audience and grow your following on Pinterest.

When you run a contest it's crucial that you include your own terms and conditions. This will help users understand exactly what they should expect from your campaign as well as give yourself a baseline set of rules and guidelines to follow.

Here are a few pieces of information we recommend including in your terms and conditions:

  • The name and contact details of the promoting brand.
  • Contest dates (including when submissions close and when a winner will be announced).
  • Rules of who can enter (such as age and employee restrictions).
  • Guidelines of how people can enter.
  • How the winner will be informed.
  • How the winner will be selected.
  • The time period the winner has to claim their prize.
  • The specifics of the prize (including the number of prizes, a description of the prizes, and any caveats).
  • Details of how the prize will be delivered.

If you run your competition with Gleam all you have to do to set up your terms and conditions is write them out and watch as they are automatically embedded in your widget.

When setting up your contest, an important decision you will be faced with is how long you want your contest to run for. There's no straightforward answer to this question, and your decision will be majorly influenced by what type of contest you're running, how big your following is and what kind of prize you're giving away.

We generally recommend that you keep your contest open for a month or more. This will give it enough time to find an audience, gain traction, and accumulate a sizeable amount of entries. This is particularly important if you're giving away a valuable prize which you want to get your money's worth out of, or if you don't already have a sizeable following and need extra time to pick up momentum.

It may seem like monitoring over a month's worth of submissions is an arduous task, but if you run your contest with Gleam then we will automatically record and store all your entries for you.

As beneficial as it is to run a contest for an extended duration, you don't want to let it drag on. If you keep a contest active for months on end people will eventually start to lose interest and the campaign will start to lose some of its impact, so try not to run any one contest for more than a few months.

Your contest's prize is the centrepiece of your entire campaign. It's what will catch people's eye as they are scrolling past and it's what will drive actions on Pinterest, so it's important that you pick a good one.

You want to choose a prize that will resonate specifically with the audience that you're trying to attract. Generic gifts can often encourage entry from users who don't have any real interest in your brand or products, so try to pick a prize that's targeted towards the people who are likely to have a genuine interest in what you do and have the potential to become future customers.

In addition to being relevant, you also want to ensure that the prize you offer is sufficiently valuable. The more you ask users to do, the more you should offer them in return. This is one of the best ways to encourage entry, especially when you're asking users to complete a high-effort task.

To help you get your prize selection underway, here are a few ideas for highly effective contest prizes:

Your first choice for a prize should be to give away some of your own product. This is a perfect way to ensure that contest entrants are actually interested in your brand and by making your own product the centerpiece of your campaign you'll be able to generate loads of product awareness and promote your offerings through your contest.

Contests which offer numerous small but highly sought after rewards often enjoy high levels of user participation. Gift vouchers are perfect for this, as they are appealing, easy to deliver, and fairly cost-effective.

Despite being less attention-grabbing than big-ticket items, the fact that vouchers are typically given out to multiple winners instead of just the one means that more people are likely to enter.

If you do decide to give away gift vouchers, it's very important that they are relevant to your target audience. Your best option is giving away vouchers to your own store, or to an online marketplace which sells your products. It can be a particularly good idea to give away vouchers coinciding with a sale you have running. This will increase excitement (and entries) and allow you to achieve multiple marketing objectives at once by using your contest to advertise another promotion.

People love the chance to win something that they wouldn't normally be able to obtain. Things that work well are:

  • Meets & greets with artists / famous people
  • Once off, unique or novel products
  • A newly launched product (that no-one has yet)
  • Experiences / trips

If you're giving away an interesting prize try running your giveaway alongside a blog post about the unique product or experience to drive traffic back to your website!

Once you've got your contest set up you'll be ready to go live, but remember, you can't expect to be flooded with entries if you're not properly promoting your campaign.

If done properly, contest promotion can lead to a massive increase in awareness and entries. To help you get started we're going to take you through a few of the best tactics you can use to promote your Pinterest contest.

If you're running a Pinterest contest then it's always a good idea to let your followers know by Pinning an announcement and linking to your contest from your Pinterest page. This an easy way to drive entries by making sure that any Pinterest users who visit your page are made aware of the campaign. Your Pinterest followers are the people who are the most likely to enter the contest, so it's important that you reach them early on.

As well as sharing your contest with all of your Pinterest followers, you'll also want to make sure everyone on your mailing list is aware of your contest.

Your email subscribers have subscribed because they are interested in your brand and want to know about your latest happenings. Reward them for their interest by sending them timely updates about all your contests. Your mailing list is made up of people who are very likely to enter your contest, so it's important that they're made aware of all your contests and giveaways.

Email blast for a promotional giveaway

In addition to promoting your contest to your Pinterest followers and mailing list subscribers, it's also a good idea to spread word about your campaign across any other social media networks you're active on such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This will help you reach a larger audience, increase contest entries and convert your audience on other platforms into Pinterest followers.

If you run a contest with Gleam then you have the option of embedding your competition into your own website. This will allow you to drive website traffic with your contest and encourage entry for regular website visitors.

If you dedicate a page on your website to Pinterest contests then it can be a good idea to embed some relevant Pins as well. You can embed Pins which promote your contest, or even ones which you've already received as submission to exemplify the type of content you're seeking.

Partnering up with another brand or an influencer is a great way to expose your contest (and brand) to an audience who may not be familiar with you.

You can try reaching out to an influencer within your niche and getting them to promote your contest in exchange for some free product or even just some interesting content.

You could even try partnering up with another brand who sells a complementary product and giving away a product bundle together. For example, if you're a beauty brand then you could partner up with a women's clothing retailer to run a joint contest. This will expose the contest to both brand's followings and help each company reach a new audience.

These are the tactics that are likely to be the most effective at promoting a Pinterest contest, but if you want to check out lots more worthwhile contest promotion strategies then check out our in-depth guide.

Competition Promotion Tips
Learn More About Contest Promotion

Check out our in depth guide for all the information you need on promoting your giveaway.

Once your contest has run its course and you're ready to wrap things up there are a few important tasks you'll need to take care of.

The way you go about drawing winners will depend on the type of contest you run. If you run a frictionless contest directly on Pinterest you will need to find a way to gather all the Pins or Boards that were submitted and pick a winner based on who best satisfied the requirements of your contest.

If you run your contest on Gleam this process will become a whole lot easier, as Gleam will automatically store all submissions for you which makes going through and picking out the winning entry a lot simpler. If you run a contest with a wide selection of entry actions then you may want to randomly draw a winner, which Gleam can again take care of for you.

Once you've chosen your winner you'll need to publicly announce who it is and congratulate them for their victory. In the immediate aftermath of your contest you don't want to neglect your other contest entrants, so consider using your announcement as an opportunity to offer all your users a bonus reward or advertise your other upcoming contests or promotions.

Once your contest comes to a close it's likely that you will have drawn a lot of new attention to your Pinterest page, and piqued the interest of your pre-existing followers. It's crucial that you take advantage of this heightened awareness and attention by posting engaging content or running another promotion which will drive sales or other types of further action as soon as your contest closes.

For example, if you're an e-commerce store try running a sale at the conclusion of your campaign. This will help you drive sales from your new following and develop your consumer relationships before the goodwill you earned during your contest has worn off.


Helena Ng

Helena is a Growth Marketer at Gleam. Leave her a nice comment below if you got something out of this post ☺