How to Run a Business-Smart Pinterest Contest

How to Run a Business Smart Pinterest ContestPinterest contests can be a fantastic way to increase engagement and add variety to your pinning activities.  If done well, they can also bring great rewards to your business well beyond the conclusion of your contest.

If you’re ready to run a contest that is both fun AND smart for your business, consider the following steps.


1. Decide WHY you want to run a contest on Pinterest

Business-savvy Pinterest contests are designed to increase Web traffic, gather market feedback, or collect new leads – sometimes even a healthy combination of all three!  Let’s see how you and your business can take advantage of these perks.

Increase Web traffic. Given Pinterest’s incredible ability to drive traffic to Websites and blogs, why not run a contest that requires entrants to visit your Website and pin something that they find there? Entrants might very much like what they see and subscribe to your blog updates, share your content with their online connections, contact you for more information, etc.

Gather market feedback. Pinterest is a place where users enthusiastically share what they love. Tap into that passion by asking entrants to share with YOU what they love in your niche.

For example, if you are an online bookseller, have entrants pin the image of their favorite young adult novel from your Website. If you are a handbag designer, have contest participants select the most “boho” or “red-carpet ready” bag on your site. Their responses can provide you with great insight on how your products are perceived by others. (These contests also have the hidden benefit of driving entrants to your Website.)

If you’re looking for new inspiration, suggest that the entrants find pins from other sites. This type of contest will prompt entrants to scour the Internet for ideas that can fuel your next product line or offerings.

Grow your email list.  Whether you aim to drive traffic to your site or get market feedback (or perhaps both!), your contest should also be used to add new, qualified names to your email list. Since there is currently no “direct message” function on Pinterest, email is the best way to contact your winners (and non-winners) and to continue a dialog with all those who entered your contest.


2. Design your contest to support your goals

Hosting your contest on Pinterest is certainly the easiest way to run a contest. Unfortunately, Pinterest’s contest rules state that you cannot ask contest participants to leave a comment on your contest pin.

Especially given the fact that there’s no direct message functionality on Pinterest, how else can entrants tell you where they’ve “pinned to win”? And how can entrants give you their email addresses? These rules really put businesses in a pickle!

Needless to say, this “no comment” rule has prompted a lot of businesses to host pinning contests off of Pinterest and instead on business Facebook pages, Websites, or blogs.


3. Explore your options – tools

Many Facebook app developers such as Shortstack and Woobox offer “Pin It to Win It” templates for Facebook pages. Here’s a Woobox example from Youngevity.



Once an entrant has “Liked” the Facebook page, she is able to give Youngevity the URL of her entry pin or board and provide her email address.

Companies such as Blogpaws use Rafflecopter, a contest widget used by many bloggers, to embed the contest in a blog post. This method provides another great way to get entrants to your Website.

Blogpaws Pinterest blog Rafflecopter form

Like Woobox and its competitors, Rafflecopter also securely collects email addresses of entrants and puts them in a handy Excel spreadsheet for you to sort and edit.

Other companies host their contests on a standalone “microsite” offered by companies such as Piqora, Curalate, and others. Here’s how Edutopia has hosted its “Pin to Win Sweepstakes” on a Piqora microsite.


Edutopia Pinterest contest Piqora microsite

As you’ll see, these microsites can easily capture email addresses and post contest rules (another must according to Pinterest contest guidelines).

It’s well worth the time to figure out the goals, style, and location of your next Pinterest contest. After all, if you’re going to take the time to set up and promote a contest—in addition to offering a valuable prize—you want to make sure that the contest is something that YOU get excited about too!

For more information about running your own Pinterest contest be sure to check out episode 33 of the Oh So Pinteresting podcast.

What questions do you have about running a contest on Pinterest?


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Lisa Kalner Williams is the founder of Sierra Tierra Marketing, a social media marketing company and Learn Social With Lisa, an online social media marketing school. Follow her on Google+ or subscribe to her social media best practices newsletter.