social media how toHave you run contests on Pinterest?

Are you aware of Pinterest contests rules and regulations?

After many businesses misused the relaxed format, Pinterest revised its contest rules. They now require contests be easy to enter, spam-free and in alignment with Pinterest branding guidelines.

In this article I’ll explain what you need to know to run successful and compliant Pinterest contests.

pinterest contest rules

Discover how to run a Pinterest contest that follows the rules.

Pinterest Contest Rules

To stay compliant, follow Pinterest contest rules.

pinterest contest rules

Here are Pinterest contest rules.

To make sure your Pinterest contest is successful, try these six tips.

#1: Ask for One Entry

Pinterest prefers quality over quantity. It asks businesses to encourage pinners to submit one quality entry, rather than multiple pins.

HuHot, a US-based grill restaurant, organized a crowdsourcing contest on Pinterest. They asked their fans to create their own Mongolian grill recipes and pin them on their respective pinboards.

huhot pinterest contest pin

HuHot asked customers to pin a photo and recipe to enter.

HuHot did everything right. They asked for the best content from pinners, they did not ask for a specific number of pins to enter and they collected all the pins on one dedicated pinboard for their audience. It’s a great practice for future reference.

One quality entry per pinner will result in high-quality user-generated content that follows Pinterest contest rules.

#2: Create Suitable Hashtags

Unique hashtags are great identifiers for a Pinterest content. Have entrants use a special hashtag in pins to enter your contest.

Ergobaby’s My Ideal Mother’s Day contest centered on three hashtags: #ergobaby, #idealmothersday and #babywearing.

ergobaby pinterest contest pin

Ergobaby had pinners use special hashtags to enter their Mother’s Day contest.

To enter the contest, pinners were asked to tag pictures of their ideal Mother’s Day. The Ergobaby hashtags were meaningful, as they related to the brand, the product’s purpose and the holiday.

The idea is to make it clear that the pins are a part of a Pinterest competition. The easiest way to do that is to assign a hashtag that’s contest-specific. Having trouble finding just one suitable hashtag? Create more than one.

#3: Build a Landing Page

On Pinterest, when you ask for comments from pinners, it’s considered spam. Since commenting is common practice to boost engagement on the platform, it’s best to find an alternative.

The best way to avoid Pinterest spam is to take all the “spammy” activities off of the network and create a separate landing page for your contest. It’s also the ideal place to cover the rules, terms, prizes and even a sample entry.

Boticca, a jewelry brand, created a landing page for their I Wish for a Gift With a Story contest on Pinterest. To enter, users needed to pin and create a story, and then submit their Pinterest profile link, along with their name and email address.

boticca pinterest contest landing page

Create a separate landing page with a web entry form for your Pinterest contest.

As a bonus, when you take the contest entry itself off of Pinterest, it boosts website traffic. Plus, you still have plenty of legit Pinterest engagement.

#4: Clearly Explain Rules and Prizes

Contests on Pinterest need to be easy to enter with understandable rules. Pinterest also encourages brands to announce prizes along with the contest.

HP‘s SpectreXT contest, which was designed to promote their SpectreXT laptops, was concise and clear.

hp pinterest contest rules

For your contest, explain rules and prizes up front.

HP created weekly contests with a different theme each week. Entry was simple, the rules were laid out and the prizes were announced on the introductory pin.

Make your contests easy to enter and easy to understand. Your participants and Pinterest will be happy.

#5: Judge Sweepstakes Creatively

Pinterest discourages brands from running sweepstakes where every like, comment, pin and repin is considered an entry. This is a new rule. Brands also should not ask for votes in the form of pin, repin, like or board.

The better approach is to remove random actions altogether. The best content should win.

Country Living’s Dream Bedroom Pinterest Contest asked pinners to create a new pinboard called, “My Country Living Dream Bedroom.”

country living pinterest contest board

Get your community thinking. Reward creativity, not chance.

As the name suggests, the pinboard had to contain the contestant’s idea of his or her dream bedroom. Participants just needed to create their board and then submit their entry. A panel of judges was also appointed to decide the winner. No votes were allowed.

Assign a small team to go over contest entries and determine the winner. When participants know they’ll be judged by creativity, they’ll give more thought and effort to their entries.

#6: Think Outside the Box

The best Pinterest contests are the most unique. When you’re coming up with ideas for contests, see how you can make them different from the norm.

For example, Emailvision’s Pin Your inbox contest was one of a kind. The target audience for this contest was email marketers, so the company designed a contest to create brand awareness.

emailvisions pinterest contest

Find creative concepts for your Pinterest contests.

Entrants were asked to pin their favorite email campaign, and then submit a link to the online version of the email on a dedicated landing page for the contest. Emailvision took their niche (email campaigns) and integrated it into a social media contest.

Determine what your company does best and see what twists you can put on it to create a truly unique Pinterest contest.

Why Follow the Rules?

Pinterest is known for its creative content, and their contest rules are designed to go along with that mission. Brands that violate the simple rules may find themselves in trouble.

When Cole Haan launched a Pinterest contest in May 2013, they could not have foreseen it would catch the attention of the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).

cole haan pinterest contest

Cole Haan’s Pinterest contest was not clear enough for the FTC.

The FTC found that the brand violated Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45. Cole Haan asked users to submit five images to enter the contest. The FTC stated that the hashtag, #WanderingSole, did not convey any “financial incentive,” and neither did the images. It was not clear that the pins with the hashtag were part of a contest.

Even though the FTC did not take any legal action against Cole Haan, they conveyed a clear message that businesses that use social media as a contest platform need to follow the rules. Cole Haan has since updated their social media policies.


Hosting a Pinterest contest is a great way to engage your community. You just need to do things right.

Pinterest’s contest rules are designed to make the experience best for the brand and the customer. The result is, hopefully, an engaged audience and happy winners.

What do you think? Have you run Pinterest contests? Do you have additional recommendations for brands on following the rules? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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  • Love this post! We’ve been thinking about having a Pinterest contest, and this makes us realize how clear and concise we’ll need to be. Thanks again!
    ~ Beth Anne

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  • We plan to do a pinterest contest very soon for our marketplace so this article will help tremendously! Thank you!!

  • Bob Jones

    Any ideas how I can make sure that entrants do not change their Pins *after* they have submitted them to my site. They will be time-stamped on my site…are pins time-stamped in any way, or is there some other way of making sure their original pin is unchanged?

  • Bob Jones

    Just to make it clear, the FTC’s major problem was that the Brand did not make it clear that users were posting Pins of their products as part of an incentivized contest. The FTC is very particular about the idea of “endorsements” – and making it clear whenever anybody is getting any sort of incentive for even appearing to endorse a product.
    So, adding the word “Contest” to the Hashtags posted with the Pins would have clarified the purpose of the pins.

  • Ishita Ganguly

    Thanks! I am glad you liked the post. And do run a Pinterest contest and let me know how it went.
    ~ Ishita

  • Ishita Ganguly

    Hi Bob,

    I am not aware of any feature like you mentioned but when they submit the URL of the pin, it’s static. If you make a note of the URLs for every pinner, you can easily track things down.

    Hope I understood what you said. 🙂

  • Bob Jones

    Thanks, but let’s say we were judging the Quality of Pins…what would stop somebody from changing the content of their Pin *AFTER* the contest deadline had passed, but before it was judged?
    or even after it was judged? They could then dispute the judge’s evaluations by going back and editing their Pins.

  • carolyn blank

    Great post! Thanks for laying this out so clearly!!

  • Ishita Ganguly

    Thanks Carolyn 🙂

  • Ishita Ganguly

    This is a serious concern indeed, Bob. What I can suggest, document everything with screenshots and present it on your website as a post-contest update. You can do it as a blog post as well. After that, you would have answer to manipulations, if any.

    Hope this helps! 🙂

  • Rebekah

    Thanks for the tips Ishita! Do you have any suggestions for for people with smaller followings to do contests? I wanted to do a Pinterest contest and use the promoted pins tool to get it out there. Pinterest’s promoted pin rules don’t allow you to have landing pages with required email entries. So with under 400 followers, I’m concerned 1 pin about my contest might not get any traction at all. Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!

  • Great Tips. Thanks for posting.

  • Ishita Ganguly

    Hi Rebekah,

    This is a concern that might bother any small Pinterest business pages. What I can suggest here is, cross-promotion. You must have your Facebook, Twitter or other channels for your business. Cross promote your Pinterest contest on those platforms and ask your existing fans to participate there as well. And do incentivize them well 🙂

    Hope this helps!

  • Ishita Ganguly

    Thanks Annie! Glad you found the post helpful. 🙂

  • Rebekah

    Every little bits helps, I will try that. Maybe I will also try advertising on these other platforms will less strict rules.

    Thanks for taking the time to answer my question =)

  • Ishita Ganguly

    Yes, you can do that. But every network has a set of rules for contests. Do check them carefully. 🙂

  • Melissa Mireles

    Great post! I have a question – how does one run a successful Pinterest contest with using hashtags within pins as they won’t always appear in search? How would you find the entries?

  • Ishita Ganguly

    Great question Melissa.

    Hashtags don’t always appear on Pinterest searches. For this reason, a landing page is required where all the official entries can be collated. While some brands even ask the participants to tag them with their pins, so they could be aware of it.

  • Great article! Thanks for featuring one of my contests! (Ergobaby!)

  • Ishita Ganguly

    Congrats on such a wonderful campaign, Christina 🙂

  • I want to run a contest on Pinterest. This article is the best one I’ve read so far. I’m unclear on one point – can I create a Competition Board and ask my followers to pin their entry to that board (I’m asking them to share a painting that their child has created)? Or do I have to ask them to submit a link to the pin outside of Pinterest? I didn’t want to ask pinners to create their own new pinboard. Thanks.

  • chris

    Hey i need Pinterest terms and conditions for home decor contest