Pinterest Contest Guidelines: What Brands and Bloggers Need To Know

Acceptance User Policy PinterestPinterest has been in the news this week with regard to contests in general and a revised Acceptable Use Policy that was announced, creating lots of angst in the blogging community and requiring brands to continue to refine and rethink their contest strategies.

As pretty much everyone is aware, Pinterest is a social platform that isn’t just growing rapidly; it’s one that’s amassing users so quickly that it’s more like it’s taken a bath in Miracle-Gro. In short, Pinterest is huge. And as brands and bloggers use Pinterest to share content, promote marketing campaigns and drive traffic to their websites (and of course sales) many have been using the platform for contests. It’s a tactic that’s worked well, until now.

Pinterest has recently updated its guidelines for these so-called “Pin to Win” or “Pin It To Win It” contests in an effort to decrease the amount of these types of contests, as they purportedly (or at least according to Pinterest) do nothing to encourage creativity and expression, the fundamentals on which the site is based.

Pinned If You Do, Banned If You Don’t

So you don’t run afoul of Pinterest’s new guidelines, there are a few dos and don’ts should you probably familiarize yourself with. After all, you don’t want your cleverly crafted, visually rich pinboards getting excommunicated from the site’s conglomeration of eye candy.

The Do Pinterest Acceptable Use Policy

The “Dos”

Seek Out The Goodness! Reward Quality Over Quantity  
Pinterest was created for users to discover and pin things that inspire them. I’d say it’s a safe bet that the company isn’t all that interested in the antics of spammers or the manipulations of marketers and is striving to keep the focus of the interface on creativity. Brands should remember this when creating contest campaigns and choosing winners.

Less Is More: Make Your Contests Easy To Enter  
The key to success in sales and marketing is when you do things to serve your customers. And when you’re developing a contest campaign (which is probably something you’re doing to serve your own interests), make sure you keep the interests of potential participants top of mind. Consumers don’t want to jump through hoops to enter your contest; if something is a pain in the neck, they’re not gonna play. And less is always more; make contests simple to enter. And if you’re smart, don’t require contest participants to compromise their privacy. Ask for their email address, they’ll likely give it to you. Ask them to vote or do something that requires them to give you access to all their Facebook or Twitter connections, they’re much less likely to play along. The cost is too great.

Learn, Know, and Live Pinterest’s Anti-Spam Policies - 
The more popular Pinterest gets, the more spam there is (this is true of any platform, yes, but work with us here). By reading their anti-spam policies before you develop your contests and making sure that what you’re doing is in compliance, it saves everybody headaches down the line.

Check Pinterest’s Branding Guidelines
If your brand plans to reference Pinterest when running a contest, make sure to familiarize yourself with their specific branding guidelines and make sure to follow them correctly. More on that below.

The Dont Pinterest Acceptance Use Policy

The “Don’ts”

You’re On Your Own. Don’t Imply that Pinterest Endorses Your Brand/Contest
When your brand is advertising or promoting its contests, make sure you’re not suggesting—in any way—that the contest is endorsed or sponsored or in any way affiliated with Pinterest.

No Limits! Don’t Tell Pinners What To Pin
This new rule insists that pinners can pin whatever they want. Contests can no longer require them to pin a specific piece of content or image to enter the contest.

No Rules, Just Right. Don’t Require Pinners To Pin Contest Rules
Pinterest added this rule because they don’t want personal boards filled with contest rules. There is nothing creative or interesting about this and can even be viewed as spam.

An Entry Is An Entry. You Can’t Run A Contest Where Every Pin Is A New Entry.
These actions can’t be used anymore as method or entry or as an award entry to contests that are run on Pinterest.

SPAM, SPAM, Sausage & SPAM! Don’t Encourage SPAM.
Refrain from asking pinners to comment. Anything that does not bring creativity to Pinterest should be avoided.

Just One Is Fun! Don’t Require Pinners To Vote With Pins, Boards, or Likes.
You can no longer use Pinterest as a voting platform where the most amount of pins, repins, likes or comments wins the contest.

Branch Out! Don’t Use Pinterest Only For Contests.
Focus on more creative ways to use Pinterest. And a good start? Consider doing fewer contests with a higher value proposition, like more significant prizes, are the way to go.

No Drink Minimum. You Can’t Require A Minimum Number Of Pins To Enter.
Pinners can no longer be required to pin a minimum number of content to enter.

Ch-Ch-Changes! Choosing Winners
Gone are the days where you could choose winners at random. From now on, you have to post your judging guidelines before each contest and have them clearly posted.  From here on out, the contest rules must be crystal clear, so participants will know how winners are to be selected.

The long and short of all this is, guess what: bloggers and brands alike, we’re all going to have to get creative. More creative. And we’re well aware that there are plenty of folks  who don’t love these changes. But here’s the thing about the space we work in: change is inevitable. These changes seem to be made with the platform users (and contest participants who are, quite likely your potential customers) and their best interests in mind – isn’t that what it’s really all about?

photo credit: Darwin Bell via photopin cc

  • http://phylliskhare.com/ Phyllis Khare

    Nice article Shelly.I would love to see a few good examples of accounts doing it correctly.

  • http://sarafhawkins.com/ Sara F. Hawkins

    Just as an FYI, it’s not Pinterest that requires contest rules to be clear and made known to entrants at the start of a promotion. Both Federal and State laws for contests and sweepstakes require Official Rules and those rules must be available at the beginning of the promotion. Also, Pinterest does not set the rules as to how contest winners are chosen. State laws are all consistent that a contest is a promotion in which the winner is selected based on an objective criteria and not by random selection. A promotion where the winner is selected through a random draw is called a sweepstakes. These are for US laws, as even Canada has a slightly different requirement for sweepstakes promotions. It’s important for marketers, bloggers, agency reps, and anyone putting together a “giveaway” to know that platform rules are in addition to all required laws, not a substitute for the law.

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  • http://www.webhostingsecretrevealed.net/ Jerry Low

    So now adding a call-to-action (like asking your followers to comment) is an act of spam? :(

    Nice article Shelly BTW, just tweeted it.

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks Jerry!!

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