Practical Ecommerce

5 Tips for Pinterest Pin-to-Win Contests

Pinterest is the most important new social sharing site in 2012, giving online marketers both a new way to engage potential customers and a means of boosting sales.

Although there have been conflicting reports of just how Pinterest is impacting business fundamentals like sales, the general consensus is that Pinterest may be a better source of referral traffic for online retailers than any other social media site at present.

To help gain traction on Pinterest, some businesses have turned to running pin-to-win contests that encourage customers to spread the word about new products and provide a lot of useful information to marketers.

What follows are five tips for running a successful pin-to-win contest on Pinterest or similar social sharing sites.

No. 1: Make it Easy to Enter

A pin-to-win contest sounds simple enough. But there is not really a good mechanism for capturing pinned entries, awarding prizes, or tracking the contest on Pinterest. The platform simply doesn’t support the kinds of relationships or extensions that make contests fairly straight forward on other social media sites.

As a result, some marketers have created very complex contests that require entrants to complete a long list of tasks. For example, a Pottery Barn pin-to-win contest from March 2012 required folks to (1) follow the Pottery Barn Kids Pinterest account, (2) create a new Pinterest pin board and name it “Pottery Barn Kids Dream Nursery Wishlist,” (3) pin a minimum of five Pottery Barn Kids items, (4) add the hashtag “#potterybarnkids” to every contest-related pin, (5) and comment on the Pottery Barn Kids official contest pin with a URL to the completed pin board described above.

Pottery Barn Kids conducted a rather complicated multi-step pin-to-win contest.

Pottery Barn Kids conducted a rather complicated multi-step pin-to-win contest.

In contrast, a recent Nordstrom contest that ended August 5, 2012 asked entrants to pin three items and complete a short form. An even better solution might be a pin-to-win button directly on the business’s site. When a user clicks, that user is asked to provide an email address and name and is then forwarded to Pinterest to complete the pin.

No. 2: Offer a Significant Prize

Contests are very valuable to marketers, who can not only get products in front of potential customers, but also capture email addresses, names, and even product preferences of customers and future customers alike.

With this in mind, don’t be stingy with the prizes. The rather completed Pottery Barn Kids contest mentioned above offered a $1,000 shopping spree. Likewise, the Nordstrom pin-to-win contest promised $1,000 in Nordstrom gift cards.

The contest’s prize should be proportional to the expected number of entries.

No. 3: Have Things Worth Pinning

It is also important to have images or videos that are worth pinning. While some people on Pinterest will happily pin bland product images, the most influential Pinterest users will not sully their reputations with mediocre imagery. Pinterest user Patrick Minkley, who has more than 877,000 followers, is a great example. His boards are essentially devoid of standard product images, but feature hundreds of products.

Influential Pinners won't pin mediocre pictures.

Influential Pinners won’t pin mediocre pictures.

Similarly, clothing retailer Roxy recent conducted a pin-to-win Pinterest contest, but asked entrants not to pin products, but rather pin beautiful surfing-related images. The contest boosted the Roxy brand and used Pinterest in a very natural way.

The Roxy pin-to-win contest featured surf-related images that support the company's brand.

The Roxy pin-to-win contest featured surf-related images that support the company’s brand.

No. 4: Support the Contest on Other Networks, Media

As with any contest, it is important to support a Pinterest pin-to-win promotion on other social media networks, in email, and on site.

Simply let followers, fans, and users know that a pin-to-win contest exists and how to enter. But do avoid making other social media sites part of the entry process — see tip number one above. For example it would be a bad idea to ask someone to pin something and then tweet it or post it on Facebook.

Nordstrom supported is pin-to-win contest across social media and on its own site.

Nordstrom supported is pin-to-win contest across social media and on its own site.

No. 5: Reward Everyone Who Enters

Finally, consider rewarding everyone that enters the pin-to-win contest. As an example, give every entrant a coupon code good for 50 percent off of a $100 purchase or similar.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

Bio   •   RSS Feed


Sign up for our email newsletter

  1. Carlmr August 7, 2012 Reply

    "Pinterest is the most important new social sharing site in 2012, giving online marketers both a new way to engage potential customers and a means of boosting sales".

    Daily, I read similar comments in blog posts about how Pinterest is the greatest thing since sliced bread for marketers. I am asking because I would like to believe these comments and then I would use Pinterest as a sales revenue generation tool. If there is data to substantiate, can you show me or point me to the links or data sources as I am from Missouri. Thanks.

  2. Armando Roggio August 7, 2012 Reply

    @Carlmr, you are right to ask this question. In fact Jason Falls was recently asking the very same thing on Twitter. Here are a few external sources and articles for your consideration. (Some of these reference the same or similar studies, but I thought the differing perspectives made it worthwhile to include them here.)

    – [Pinterest Traffic Passes Google Referrals, Bing, Twitter & StumbleUpon](
    – [Pinterest Referrals Are 10 Percent More Likely to Make Purchases](
    – [New Data: Pinterest Referring More Traffic Than LinkedIn, Reddit, Google+](
    – [Pinterest Will Boost Your Referral Traffic, But Can It Boost Sales?](
    – [Study: Pinterest Drive More Referral Traffic](
    – [Pinterest Beats Twitter, Bing And StumbleUpon For Referral Traffic… In June REPORT](
    – [Pinterest Sent More Referral Traffic Than Twitter in February](
    – [Pinterest Drives More Traffic Than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn Combined STUDY](
    – [Pinterest Rate of Referral Now Close to Twitter, Google+](
    – [Pinterest’s referral traffic surges past Twitter, StumbleUpon](
    – [Pinterest Repeats Referral Traffic Surge, Surpassing Twitter Again](
    – [Pinterest referrals continue to eclipse other platforms](
    – [Pinterest the Referral Giant: New Site Driving More Traffic than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn Combined](
    – [love, linger, and leave: pinterest referral traffic is good news for brands](
    – [Pinterest Referral Traffic Continues Growth](
    – [Pinterest Referral Stats For June 2012](
    – [Can Pinterest boost Sales in the same way it boosts Referral Traffic?](
    – [Pinterest Business Goodies](
    – [Using Pinterest to fast track your site traffic](

    I think that sometimes marketers expect things to be handed to them, if you will. So we say "ok, Facebook or Pinterest is sending traffic to my site, but those visitors aren’t buying."

    While it may be the case that a Pinterest or Facebook visitor is less disposed to purchase, some of the responsibility should be on marketers or site designs to help convert the traffic that does come.

    If Pinterest can send traffic to one of my ecommerce sites, I need to be partly responsible for converting those visitors into customers.


  3. Lisa Wheeler November 15, 2012 Reply

    This is great, thanks! I’ve seen a lot of companies promoting contests thru Pinterest like Campbell’s Soup, Norwegian Cruise Lines, etc. and have had a lot of success. It’s awesome to see how many companies are really unleashing the power of Pinterest. A great article I just read at discusses how another company built a robust community on Pinterest that helped drive deep engagement with their fans. Anyhow, I love seeing how many places are finding such tremendous success via this platform.

  4. Lianne Maronilla November 19, 2012 Reply

    Pinfluencer is running a monthly webinar series on Pinterest promotions best practices and pinterest roi analytics. check out some past recordings at:

  5. Lanre Lala Sonola January 11, 2013 Reply

    I know this is going to sound like a dumb question but better I ask than to start a contest half-cocked.
    How do you pick a winner? What is the criteria for selection?