7 Steps To Create Effective Pin It To Win It Contests

Every company is looking for the next creative way to take advantage of Pinterest. Some have already mastered the social network by taking broad topics and breaking them down into smaller pieces.  For example someone who is a wedding planner could have boards associated with all things wedding even if they don’t offer all of those services. Chronicle Books of San Francisco sells books, but instead of creating boards to sell books they created boards around themes of books that they sell such as DIY, typography, fun with kids, etc.

And everyone knows that building a community on any social network including Pinterest is key to having your contest be successful. Some companies, like Haas Avocados with their Avocado Lovers board, have already learned that by allowing their followers to contribute and discuss their favorite items has generated mass engagement.

But some businesses are struggling with making their Pin It 2 Win It contests successful.

Here are 7 steps you need to do to create an effective and successful Pin It To Win It contest:

  1. Ask them to follow your brand on Pinterest @yourcompany
  2. Make sure you give them an email of someone they can contact for an Invite in case they don’t have a Pinterest account.
  3. Ask them to create a board around a particular theme related to your brand.  For example, Petite Lemon asked readers of their blog to enter their Pin It To Win It contest by creating a relevant board that was directly related to their new t-shirt line.
  4. Request that pinners add in a RELEVANT #hashtag along with your Pinterest handle @yourcompany so that every contest entry is branded and allows you to count their entries easily. Plus you can repin it to your brand’s contest board. See the Celtics contest below because they chose their name as the hashtag they had to come up with a super complicated entry way for pinners. And what do we know about when you make it complicated for people on social sites? They lose interest and in the case of contests, they fizzle.
  5. Be sure to tell them when the contest dates are, what the prize is, and when and where the winner(s) will be announced and MOST IMPORTANT: how they gain an entry into your contest. Is it based on # of repins and likes their pin gets? Is it a random drawing based on all eligible entries? This Sephora contest was not so clear and see what happened? Disgruntled fans became vocal.
  6. Make sure the prize is relevant to your brand. Don’t give away an iPad just because they are a hot ticket item if you you sell automotive parts. See Creative Labels of Vermont’s Pin It To Win It contest below here they are a digital printing company and they are giving away a $100 gas card. It’s not relevant to their brand. A better prize would have been $100 in free printing or 500 free business cards.
  7. Give bonus entries by asking pinners to follow you on Twitter and to tweet you the URL to their pin.

Also, don’t forget to increase the virality of your contest by having a  button and other social sharing buttons on your website or blog.

Connect with Tracy on Google + | Twitter | Facebook to get other tips and tricks.

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About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.


  1. Question! We received a notice from one of the brands that we follow that said something to the effect of “let us know if you want to pin to our board, we’ll add you” so we did. Now we have a board on our wall of boards that is actually theirs. We can pin to it, plus we get notices of tons of other pins that get added to it. How can we offer this to people. We would like to create a “community” style board of our own that anyone can pin to.

    Thanks –

    • Tracy Sestili says:

      Unfortunately, because Pinterest does not currently offer a real solution for brands and they are connected to personal accounts, you can’t offer it to others as this is not a board you created. You would have to do something similar to what the brand did and create your own and then invite others to pin to it. Hope that helps clear things up.

  2. Thanks for the tips! We are just launching our first Pin it to Win it contest ( and these tips were very helpful!

  3. I am considering launching a Pin it to win it contest for our local shopping district. Is there a program you suggest to ask people to enter before they create their Board? I followed Hotel Montleone’s Pin it to win it contest. They had me enter first, then follow their rules for the contest.

    Tiffany Eckhardt

    • Tracy Sestili says:

      Hi Tiffany, I don’t know of a specific program. It looks like Hotel Montleone created their own app/program to collect data first, prior to entering their contest.

  4. Hi Tracy,
    I am wanting to set up a “Pin it to Win it” contest asap and am having trouble finding a basic “how-to” for this. It would be easier if I had a blog I imagine. You have provided some really useful advice, but I feel I need something a little more elementary as well. Perhaps it is just sleep-deprivation, but this just confuses me! Are you able to point me in the right direction?

    Thanks so much,

    • Tracy Sestili says:

      Hi Cheryl, you can hire us to help you with your Pin It To Win It Contest. Fill out the contact form.

      • I can’t – I just tried. Said your email is not active. It won’t send. Don’t have time to write it all out again, but briefly, can you please send me an estimate of costs for such a project? Thank you!

  5. I have a question,
    How much of a budget (not includint the prize) should a pin to win require?
    Do you do any outreach before it starts? How can I get a lot of exposure?


    • Tracy Sestili says:

      Hi Sharon, the budget should be included in your overall social media strategy and budget. If you have someone working on Pinterest 100% of the time and they are salaried, then it’s easy to attribute their time to the budget + the prize. You should do outreach on Twitter, Facebook, blog, or e-newsletter prior to the contest to generate and measure interest. Depending on how compelling your prize is, how into the contest your audience is, will determine your exposure. You could also do a social ad for more exposure. Hope that helps. Cheers.


  1. […] your product pinned onto the site can bring exposure for your product and traffic to your site. Set up a Pinterest contests, during which you ask customers and fans to pin your product to their boards as a contest entry. […]