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How to Run a Pinterest Contest

In terms of 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 number of active users that these other platforms have accrued, but the truth is that if used correctly, Pinterest can 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 Pinterest contest should be at the top of your to-do list, and with Gleam's low cost, high impact Competitions app it's never been easier to run one.

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 how to run a contest let's take a look at exactly why Pinterest contests are so effective.

The Benefits of Running a Pinterest Contest

Pinterest is a highly social and collaborative platform filled with user-submissions and peer-to-peer sharing. It is because of this social, cooperative and creative atmosphere that Pinterest is one of the best platforms for running online contests which elicit engagement and develop stronger relationships with your audience. 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 numerous other specific benefits that highlight just how useful they can be.

Targeting a Female Audience

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, homewares or anything else with a female-led target audience then Pinterest is definitely a platform you'll want to be active on.

Reaching a Highly Active User Base

At its core, Pinterest is a creative curation site which is 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. This makes the running of contests, especially user-generated content contests, comparatively easy and very rewarding as chances are any audience you find on Pinterest will be eager and ready to participate in whatever it is you throw at them.

Increasing Brand Awareness

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 for the first time.

Pinterest is an aspirational lifestyle platform, so brands who are able to provide inspiration and ideas can have great success on Pinterest and attract a sizeable following. This is especially true of brands who run engaging contests which capitalize on these drives and encourage sharing around a brand's content, or even the contest itself.

Even if the contest itself does not feature your product directly, it will still generate awareness for your brand and give users a reason to interact with you, and think of you in the future.

Promoting An Event or New Product Launch

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 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 won't only be able to promote your offering, you'll also be able to engage your audience in the process.

Collecting User-Generated Content

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, and 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 it while simultaneously strengthening your consumer relationships by collaborating with your audience and letting them play an active role in your brand.

Pinterest's Contest Guidelines

Now that you've seen some of the powerful benefits that Pinterest contest's 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 the same, or requiring users to repin the contest rules.
  • Don't suggest that Pinterest sponsors or endorses you or the promotion.

Deciding What Type of Pinterest Contest to Run

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 out there for everyone.

Frictionless Pinterest Contest

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 campaign that don't require users to ever leave Pinterest or submit any additional personal information as part of their entry. 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 contest soon, but first let's take a look at a few frictionless contests you can run to drive some instant engagement.

Pin To Win

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 followers to share your content, thus exposing it to their own following. 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 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 them instruct them to create a board, name it your hashtag of choice, and repin all images they choose to the board.

Create a Pinterest Board

Both Pinterest and most users like it when people are rewarded for their creativity and effort. So if you're running a contest which tasks users with creating a board then in addition to (or instead of) getting them to repin your own images, allow them to pin their own images or images they find elsewhere. You can ask users to create a pinboard along a certain theme or guidelines and choose a winner based on creative merit.

Create a Pinterest Board contests are fantastic for engaging users, providing insights, serving as a product discovery tool and bolstering your online word-of-mouth. However, you must be aware of the effort required on on the user's side. 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 the reach of your campaign.

User-Generated Content Contests

No matter what type of brand you are, your marketing activity can always benefit from some user-generated content. UGC is reliable, trustworthy, and just about the most engaging type of content you can have, especially if you're active on a social and collaborative network like Pinterest.

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 and adorn them a contest-specific hashtag. If you're a cooking 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.

Feedback/Comment Contests

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

All of these different types of frictionless contests are highly engaging ways to meet a wide range of marketing objectives, but they aren't without their limitations. As we mentioned before, frictionless contests don't allow you 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.

In-App Contests

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. However, running this sort of contest comes with its own set of advantages which far outweigh any downside.

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:

Pinterest Contest Example

It may seem like a drawback of this type of contest is that your users will have to leave Pinterest in order to enter, and while this is the case, it isn't necessarily a drawback.

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 in your own website then this is a fantastic way to drive website traffic.

Secondly, the fact that your contest is housed exernally 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.

Visit on Pinterest

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. If your Pinterest page is filled with engaging content then this is a highly effective way to grow your following.

Pinterest > Visit on Pinterest

Select a Pin

Earlier we discussed the power of user-generated content and how you can use Pinterest contests to collect it. Well, if that's where your objectives lie 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.

Pinterest > Select Pin

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.

Select a Board

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 encourages the creation of high-quality boards promoting your brand which will be seen by all of their creator's followers. This is a great way to not only reach a new audience but also make a stellar first impression on them.

Pinterest > Select Board

Other Social Media Actions

You're probably active on some other 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.

Subscribe to a Mailing List

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.

Subscribe to a Newsletter

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.

Setting Up Your Contest

Once you 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.

Terms & Conditions

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.

Contest Duration

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 at least a month, but this is flexible. By keeping a contest active for a month or more you 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, as you'll be wanting to get your money's worth. You also need to be mindful of what type of contest you're running. If you want users to create intricate Boards or high-value content then you need to give them enough time to not only find out about the contest, but also make their submission.

If you already have a large following on Pinterest your contest will start to pick up momentum a lot quicker, and you can probably afford to reduce the length of your contest, but there isn't much of an advantage to doing this.

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.

Choosing Your Prize

Your contest's prize is the centerpiece of your entire campaign. It's what will catch people's eye as they are scrolling past and it's what will drive yoir desired actions on Pinterest, so it's key 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 targetted towards the people who are likley to have a genuine interest in what you do.

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 oen 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 away, here are a few ideas for highly effective contest prizes:

Use Your Own Products

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 contest you'll be able to generate a lot of brand awareness and promote your offerings in a highly sociable way.

Gift Vouchers

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, more people are likely to enter.

If you do decide to give away gift vouchers, it's very important that they are specifically relevant to your own 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 advertising your sale with your contest.

Giveaway Something Unique

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!

Promoting Your Pinterest Contest

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 enteries if you're not properly promoting your camapign.

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.

Pin It On Pinterest

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

Announce it to Your Subscribers

As well as sharing your contest with all of your Twitter 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 likely to be 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.

Cross-Promote on Other Social Networks

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 audeince on other platforms into Pinterest followers.

Embed it on Your Own Site

If you run a contest with Gleam then you have the option of embedding your competition into your own website. This means that in addition to being able to drive traffic to your contest from various social media platforms you will also be able to attract attention and encourage entry from your website visitors.

In addition to embedding your contest on your own site, you can also embed relevant Pins. This means that you can embed Pins promoting your contest or even Pins and Boards you've already recieved as submissions into your own site as a means of promoting the contest.

Use Partners

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 the 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.

Check Out Our Contest Promotion Guide

Wrapping Up Your Contest

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.

Drawing Winners

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 created 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 take care of for you.

Announcing Winners

Once you've chosen your winner you'll need to publically 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.

Engage Your New Following

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.

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