I see lots of bloggers running contests that require you to pin a certain image or follow a certain Pinterest account. Did you know these kinds of contests are often against Pinterest rules? If you ignore the rules, they could shut you down!
For a long time, Pinterest kind just sat back and watched contests happen. They didn’t really address contests in their TOS, nor did they vocalize their thoughts on contests on their website. But that’s a thing of the past. Pinterest recently released a list of “dos” and “don’ts” when it comes to running a contest on Pinterest as part of their brand guidelines.
The do list is mostly common sense, but the don’t list is something you need to understand. Here are the things you are not allowed to do, according to Pinterest:
- “Suggest that Pinterest sponsors or endorses you or the contest.”
This is an easy one. Simply use a disclaimer with your contest to ensure that no one thinks Pinterest itself is behind the contest.
- “Require people to pin from a selection—let them pin their own stuff.”
In other words, no more “pin it to win it” style contests. You could ask people to pin content from your site using a certain hashtags, but you cannot make them pin a certain image/post or even pin from a handful of posts you choose. Pinterest now sees this as too restricting.
- “Make people pin or repin your contest rules. This is a biggie.”
When Pinterest says a rule is important, it’s important! This is the quickest way to get shut down. I’ve seen a lot of people create images that encourage people to “pin it to win it” or otherwise explain what you have to do to win. This is now a huge no-no.
- “Run a sweepstakes where each pin, repin, board, like or follow represents an entry.”
In other words, you can’t have people pin as an entry to your contest. The contest has to be judged in some way. So, most Pinterest contests that I see people running are breaking the rules. If you’re using Rafflecopter to run your contest, you’re probably breakingthe rules.
- “Encourage spammy behavior, such as asking participants to comment.”
You can certainly ask people to comment on your blog, but Pinterest says it’s not okay to ask them to comment on your pins. I suspect that as Pinterest works on their search algorithm, how many comments a pin has will come into play. So if you’re asking people to leave a comment as a contest entry, you’re gaming the system.
- “Ask pinners to vote with pins, repins, boards, or likes.”
I don’t see a ton of contests asking people to share something on Pinterest as a “vote” but it certain is something that some people have done. And it’s now against the rules.
- “Overdo it: contests can get old fast.”
This one is more of a general piece of advice than a rule, but if all your doing is running contests, Pinterest could say “that’s enough” and shut you down.
- “Require a minimum number of pins. One is plenty.”
In other words, if you require people to create a board, you can’t say that the board must content ten or five or even two pins from your site. You can only require one.
In my opinion, Pinterest’s slapdown on contests is extremely harsh. While I do think that contests were getting out of hand on this platform, their guidelines are so limiting that it’s going to be very hard to run any kind of contest on Pinterest. My opinion doesn’t matter though – and neither does yours. These are Pinterest’s guideline. It’s their network, and they get to make the rules.
What happens if you break the rules? Well, I’m not sure. So far, they are just listed as “guidelines” not actually hard and fast rules that are part of the TOS. I would hate the idea of my Pinterest account suddenly getting shut down! I’m not sure it is worth the risk, even if running a Pinterest contest can drive a ton of traffic.
Spread the word. If you see another blogger running a Pinterest contest that breaks the rules, mention it to them (politely and privately). That way at least they know the risks. Hopefully, we’ll see Pinterest continue to evolve and loosen up a little on their contest rules in the future.