Why Pinterest Contests Will be slowing in 2014

Why Pinterest Contests Will be slowing in 2014

Internet marketers are among Pinterest biggest fans and understandably so since they have been indulging themselves in a marketing bonanza since the sites launch in 2010. Since it’s inception Pinterest has been a conversion machine with studies showing its traffic converts at a 50% higher rate than other social media traffic. Pinterest has many ways it can be leveraged to generate heap loads of traffic and brand exposure, and of those ways none has delivered more of a marketing gold rush than contests and competitions. Although these marketing engines have been an amazing and steady weapon for brands to utilize, Pinterest recently announced changes to it’s rule book which will significantly change the way that contests can be run on the site and potentially put a pin in marketing strategies everywhere.

How The Rules Have Changed

The changes to how Pinterest contests operate are actually quite radical and will likely upset the plans of many online marketers. Included among these changes are no longer being allowed to ask pinterest members to vote using pins, boards or likes, requiring pinning from a certain selection such as products on a company’s website, asking participants to comment or requiring a minimum number of pins.

These changes crack down on two of the most common tactics used by contest marketers. Under the new rules marketers can no longer compel Pinterest members to pin from a specific board or website. This was one of the most common ways that marketers used the site to expose their brand to a wider audience. Secondly contests are now being run on a one person – one vote basis. If you pin once, twice, or a dozen times it won’t affect your entry. This removes the incentive to frequently pin or to create multiple boards.

Pinterest’s communication manager Annie Tan says that one of the reasons why Pinterest is cracking down on competitions is because they can encourage users to pin things and create boards that they aren’t really interested in. As a result these pins and boards can become spammy and not really add a lot of value to other Pinterest users.

Successful Competitions Under The Old Rules

It is useful to look at how successful competitions were being run under the old rules to see why these changes will have a significant impact. In 2012 Country Living ran a “Dream Bedroom Pinterest Contest” in which users had to create a new board called “My Country Living Dream Bedroom”.

country living pinterest contest

The contestants were required to pin a minimum of 10 items and at least five of these pins had to be products from the Country Living Website. In addition they were required to comment on the contest pin with a link to their to pinboard in order to enter the competition. Under the new rules this type of competition would break a number of different rules.

What Is Allowed Under The New Rules

The new rules do make it clear what kind of contests will no longer be permissible. What marketers may be less clear about is how businesses can run contests. Jud Hoffman the Pinterest Policy Director gave an example of a Pinterest competition sponsored by a food company which encourages its users to create a board of their favorite thanksgiving meal. In this scenario the food company would not be able to compel those who enter to use specific products on their board or to allow multiple boards to count as more than one entry. However, the food company would gain exposure through sponsoring the competition.

Marketers Will Learn To Live With The New Rules

Despite the tightening of the rules we should expect marketers to abandoning the site any time soon. Firstly Pinterest continues to grow faster rate than any social network in the history of the internet. Secondly the Pinterest user base is highly desirable demographic for most companies to market to. Woman currently make up approximately 80% of the users on the site. They are also more affluent and better educated than the general population. The average household income of a Pinterest user is between $25,000 – $75,000 a year and 25% of them hold a bachelors degree or higher. Considering that 85% of all brand purchases are made by women, we can see why A business would want to appeal to this market.

Pinterest is too valuable a market for businesses to ignore and so marketers will simply have to learn to live with the new rules. Until now Pinterest has been highly flexible in terms of how social media contests can be run, especially compared to other platforms like Facebook. The tightening of the rules can be viewed as a natural evolution of the site as it matures. The challenge for marketers will be to evolve with it.

Written by Mike Campolattano

Mike Campolattano is a Search Marketing Director at a well known Digital Agency in Florida, focusing on increasing the digital footprint for a variety of brands such as McDonalds, Universal Resorts, Westin and many more.

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