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Brands beware: Pinterest contests and sweepstakes as you know them are fundamentally changing.

Pinterest Contest Guidelines

You see them on your Pinterest feed. You see them on many brands’ websites. You see them on your competitors profile. Pinterest contests are an inescapable part of Pinterest marketing. Major brands like Godiva, Carnival, Maggiano’s and many others have successfully used Pinterest contests to help raise awareness of their presence on Pinterest. However, Pinterest contests as you may know them are fundamentally changing.

The New “Don’ts” of Pinterest Contests

Before the new guidelines were implemented, brands ran contests with little regulation from Pinterest. However, many of the techniques previously used are now forbidden by Pinterest. From Pinterest’s contest guideline page:

  • Don’t suggest that Pinterest sponsors or endorses you or the contest.
  • Don’t require people to pin from a selection – let them pin their own stuff.
  • Don’t make people pin or repin your contest rules. This is a biggie.
  • Don’t run a sweepstakes where each pin, repin, board, like or follow represents an entry.
  • Don’t encourage spammy behavior, such as asking participants to comment.
  • Don’t ask pinners to vote with pins, repins, boards, or likes.
  • Don’t over do it: contests can get old fast.
  • Don’t require a minimum number of pins. One is plenty.

Implementing the “Don’ts” in New Contests

While the new Pinterest contest restrictions may seem harsh, by implementing them, a brand can make the contest experience much more valuable to both themselves and the user. 

Choosing Pins

When deciding on a Pinterest contest or promotion, the brand must determine where they want the user to find the items to pin. While a brand can no longer ask a user to pin a certain pin or pin from a certain board, it is still OK to ask them to pin an item from the brand website or Pinterest profile overall.

Make Your Pinterest Contest Guidelines Easy to Follow

Rules and Promotion

Make sure your contest instructions are clear and concise. Pinterest strongly discourages making a pin with the rules to the contest, so start using other social platforms to spread the word. Instead of creating a “spammy” pin, try sending out emails and posting the rules to your brand’s Facebook and Twitter.

 Use Facebook or Twitter to Promote Your Pinterest Contest

Choosing a Winner

The days of picking a winner at random have come to an end on Pinterest. When coming up with rules for your contest, make sure to keep the judging guidelines fun and subjective. For example, Jetsetter hosted a Pinterest scavenger hunt contest where they provided clues every day for two weeks and users pinned an image from their site that they believed matched the clue. Jetsetter chose the winners based on creativity, visual interest and how well the pin fit the clues.

 Jetsetter Did a Great Job With Their Pinterest Contest


Due to Pinterest’s update search engine, this method will no longer work for running contests. If you’re interested in Pinterest contests, email [email protected]

With the absence of designated repins, likes or comments, keeping track of contests has become much more difficult. Because of this, it’s very important that your brand chooses a specific keyword for users to use in the captions of their pins. You CAN use hashtags in your descriptions. Before deciding on what to use, be sure to do a quick search of Pinterest to ensure you’ve chosen a keyword unique to your contest.

Use a Brand Specific Keyword to Track Your Pinterest Contest

When designing a contest to fit Pinterest’s new rules, think of it as a fun challenge for you and your followers. Pinterest wants you to think about your contests as “quality over quantity”. By eliminating the easy stuff, more creativity can shine through.

This post was originally featured on the Tailwind Blog as Implementing the New Pinterest Contest Guidelines

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Melissa Megginson is resident Community Manager and Cat Lady at Tailwind, the leading Pinterest & Instagram tool for brands. Melissa specializes in affiliate marketing, public speaking, and making our members look good. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at @MelMegg.

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  1. […] introduced their first “Pin it to Win It” contest (note: it is now against Pinterest’s contest guidelines to use that name for a contest). The contest was designed to be ongoing: each week, they would pick […]

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