Just in time for the holidays, Pinterest has released new Marketing Guidelines for companies using the innovative photo-sharing website for their contests and sweepstakes.  For those unaware, “pinning” has become the next new verb among social media users, right alongside “facebooking” and “tweeting.”  Heck, even the White House now has an account.  The concept is pretty simple: users browse the web, spot something they like, and “pin” it onto one of their “pinboards.”

Retailers and other businesses have started using Pinterest to host their promotions.  Typically, companies will ask people to pin a certain number of their products, then email a link of their specially-named pinboard to the sweepstakes’ sponsor for an entry into a random drawing.  Hoping to capitalize on Pinterest’s popularity this holiday season, retailers like L.L. Bean, Lands’ End, and Mary Kay, have used this approach to develop “Win Your Wish List” promotions.  By entering these contests, customers can win gift cards or their favorite items, just by creating and sharing their pinboard.

Similar to Facebook’s Promotions Guidelines, a principal motivation for the new Pinterest rules is the site’s desire to ensure that promotion sponsors do not falsely associate themselves with Pinterest, implying that the site endorses or sponsors their promotion.  The Pinterest Marketing Guidelines make it clear that promotion sponsors should not state or imply in their promotion rules (and associated materials) that Pinterest is a sponsor of, or affiliated with, their promotion if that is not the case.  Moreover, the new rules make suggestions for successful use of the site in promotions and discourage the use of “spammy” promotional techniques that may overwhelm the site, violate the law and anger consumers.  The guidelines provide sample marketing materials and examples demonstrating how sponsors should and should not promote their contest or sweepstakes:

Pinterest_marketing_1 Pinterest_marketing_2

Pinterest’s guidelines offer other tips for sponsors that plan on running a promotion through the website, such as:


  • Encourage authenticity: Reward the quality of pinning, not just the quantity of it.
  • Promote your contest: Link to your Pinterest account or contest board from your website, social media and marketing channels.
  • Prevent spam: Read up on our anti-spam measures to help keep your contest fun and useful.
  • Make getting involved easy: Create clear instructions and a simple process.

Pinterest also warns against engaging in the following activities:


  • Encourage spam: Steer clear of contests that encourage spammy behavior, such as asking participants to comment repeatedly.
  • Run a sweepstakes where each pin, repin, or like represents an entry. Ask pinners to vote with a repin or like.
  • Overdo it: Contests and promotions can be effective, but you don’t want to run a contest too often.
  • Suggest that Pinterest sponsors or endorses you: Make sure you don’t say or imply this anywhere in your marketing materials or branding.

Finally, the guidelines remind sponsors that they are responsible for making sure their Pinterest-based promotion complies with federal and state legal requirements.  This includes writing the official rules, setting and enforcing eligibility requirements, and complying with various marketing regulations.  Pinterest also suggests that sponsors work with a lawyer to ensure compliance with these rules and regulations.

So marketers, if you’re gearing up for a Pinterest promotion this holiday season, make sure that you disclaim Pinterest’s sponsorship of your contest and that you’re otherwise in compliance with all relevant guidelines in order to make the promotion successful.