9 Tips to Get More Out of Pinterest (with Pinterest Contests)

You know Pinterest is a big deal…

You’ve seen Pinterest buttons everywhere, but you’ve also probably seen the “Pin It to Win It” banners too.

Everyone from Better Homes & Gardens, Kraft and Threadless to Spa Week, AMC Theaters and Syracuse University has experimented with running contests on Pinterest, the third most visited social media network behind Facebook and Twitter.

Should you jump in and follow suit? Absolutely! Forget running a contest on Facebook with all their stringent rules and regulations and hold your next contest on Pinterest instead.

Read on to discover nine tips and strategies to get more traffic, increase your sales and find new customers from running a contest on Pinterest.

Determine your goals

There are many reasons to run your next contest on Pinterest, including getting new Pinterest followers, adding more subscribers to your email list, increasing awareness of your brand, getting more traffic to your website, increasing your sales, getting publicity, launching a new product line, getting feedback for your next collection, establishing your expertise and more.

Whatever your goals are, make sure that you and your team are fully aware of them before you start your contest. Having clear goals will help you make the most out of your next contest on Pinterest.

Keep in mind: Your contest can have more than one goal, but pick no more than two or three goals per contest to keep things less confusing for your participants. You can run a few contests per year, each centered around a specific goal, if you want to get the most out of running a contest on Pinterest.

Pick your contest type

There are many different types of contests you can have on Pinterest and your goal can help you decide the contest type. Here are a few examples of contest types, each fulfilling a different goal:

  1. To add more followers to your Pinterest profile, hold a contest that asks people to follow you (all your contests should require participants to follow you on Pinterest, but if you want to keep it simple, this is the easiest way to go)
  2. To get feedback on your upcoming product line or project, create a board with your proposed products/project and ask participants to leave a comment on which one is their favorite and why
  3. To get more traffic to your website, ask participants to create a board (and name it with your brand name) and pin their top 10 favorite items from your website
  4. To get social proof, get new customers and increase your sales, create a board that allows contributors and ask your customers to upload a photo of themselves using your products or upload a video testimonial. This establishes instant credibility, which is key in getting new customers.
  5. To increase your brand awareness, ask participants to create a board with pins that best represent your company. This can include items/products from your own website or inspiration from other sites.

Keep in mind: Establish clear guidelines about how winners will redeem their prize and if there are any costs associated with redemption (on your end or theirs).

Offer a worthy prize

Offering a high-value prize like a $500 gift certificate, a dream vacation, a shopping spree or one-on-one coaching will draw more attention to your contest and it will serve as a great incentive for more people to enter. The higher the value of your prize, the more entries you can expect.

Keep in mind: The value of your prize should be proportional to the effort participants have to put in to enter the contest. In other words, if you are only offering a $100 gift certificate, don’t ask people to follow you on Pinterest, sign up for your email newsletter, pin 20 items from your website AND share the contest with 20 friends.

Editor’s Notes: Depending on where you live, countries have specific rules about certain types of prizes. Make sure you’re aware of them before running a contest.

Create a pinnable image for your contest

Since Pinterest is image-driven, having a great pinnable image for your contest should go without saying. What makes a pinnable image? Using great colors that pop out, including your logo, having a call to action (“click to enter,” “pin to win”), using the words “contest,” “giveaway” or “promotion,” adding the dollar amount for the prize and mentioning the contest end date will make your image more pinnable.

Keep in mind: When you pin the contest image to your Pinterest board, add a relevant description, including your #keywords, the amount of the prize, a link back to your website where explain all about the contest and a call to action (i.e., Click on the image to re-pin, Visit our website to enter, etc.)

Promote your contest

A contest is not a contest without entries, so make sure to actively promote and cross-promote your contest. It’s not enough to pin your contest image to Pinterest and add a link to it from your website. Mention it in your newsletter, promote it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social media networks (more than once) to get the most number of entries. Here are a few more ideas to promote your contest:

  1. Contact your local press and ask them to get your local community involved (especially if your business is local)
  2. Ask your affiliates and network to share your contest with their tribe
  3. Ask your customers and those on your email list to share it with their networks

Keep in mind: Don’t over do it by having your contest be the only topic of conversation on your social media profiles. Mix it up with your regular posts to ensure that your followers don’t feel spammed.

Make it easy to enter

If you want more people to enter your contest, you have to make it easy for them to enter and participate. You should ask them to follow you on Pinterest and maybe add two or three additional steps to qualify. But don’t go overboard and ask them to pin 20 items from your site, create a new board, re-pin at least 10 items from your current boards, sign up for your email newsletter, comment on five pins, fill out an entry form, share the contest with 5 friends and comment on your blog. That’s clearly too many steps and a high barrier to entry.

Keep in mind: Balance is key here. If you are offering a significant prize, you have more leeway in what you can ask participants to do to enter. If your prize is minimal, the steps they need to take to enter should be minimal as well.

Choose a winner

When you set up your contest, don’t forget to set up the rules as to how you will pick a winner. Is the winner going to be picked at random (by using a service like www.random.org), will you select a winner based on responses or will you have a panel of judges determine the winner based on certain criteria?

Keep in mind: Let your participants know how AND when the winner will be picked so they know what to expect from you. Include any information on how they can redeem their prize and any deadlines, if relevant.

Measure and track your results

Measuring and tracking your results after the contest ends is just as important as running your contest. Take a look at what your goals are and implement ways to track those goals before, during and after the contest ends. Set up a spreadsheet, use an analytics program and use the statistics within Pinterest (re-pins, likes, follows) to determine the success of your contest.

Keep in mind: If you use Google Analytics, you can see what specific pins are driving traffic to your website. Check your contest image/pin to see how much traffic you’re getting from it. And don’t forget to set up “Goals” so you can track revenue generated directly from the contest.


With contests, your motto should be “Do more of what works,” so if a contest worked well for you (lots of traffic, followers, subscribers, customers, buzz, etc.) there’s no reason why you shouldn’t run it again.

Keep in mind: Make regular Pinterest contests (maybe once a quarter) a part of your marketing plan.

A Few More Things to Keep in Mind

I hope you got some great ideas and guidelines for running your next contest on Pinterest.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you are planning your next contest:

  • Check out Pinterest’s Terms and Conditions (which are constantly changing) to make sure you abide by their rules
  • Create a landing page on your website with all the pertinent info about your contest
  • Reward everyone who enters – offering a significant discount to EVERYONE who enters your contest is a great way to get more entries and convert some entrants into paying customers
  • Don’t spam or ask contest participants to spam on your behalf

And most important, have fun! Pinterest is all about fun and inspiration and your contest should reflect that.

Have you ran a contest on Pinterest? If so, I’d love to hear more about your experience by sharing it in the comments below.

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