There have been a few changes from Pinterest over the last few months, making it even more business friendly and perfect for creative industries to flourish. As these new changes come in, more businesses are realising the potential and getting on board. Although this may mean a bit more competition for you, there are ways to stand out from the crowd.

One of the most engaging ways to market your business on Pinterest is with competitions and contests. Although there have been some rule changes recently, ‘Pin to Win’ contests are still an effective marketing tool on this social media platform. Let’s have a look at the 5 best ways to use these contests, for your creative business.

1) Come up with a contest

This may seem like an obvious first step, but there are many things that you should consider when dreaming up your first Pinterest contest. Decide what the overall goal of your contest will be. Is it to drive more traffic to your website? Build your mailing list?  Perhaps it is to gain more publicity for a new product launch? You can have several goals for each competition, but try to limit it to a maximum of three.

You then need to choose which type of contest to use. Due to the new rule changes on Pinterest, some of the ‘Pin to Win’ competitions you may have seen, or run yourself, before are now not allowed. The best type of contest to run, especially if you want to stick within Pinterest’s rules, is one in which users create their own board. This is also a great way to drive traffic to your website, if they have to pin their favourite items from the things you sell.

2) A worthy prize 

The main reason people enter competitions is for the prize, so this is one area that needs to be thought about carefully. The value of your prize should be proportional to the effort that your participants put in. If you are only offering a small prize then the contest should be relatively easy. On the other hand, if you’re giving away a wedding dress worth £1,000 then you can make it slightly less easy. Never make it too difficult to enter as people simply won’t bother.

 Contests with higher prize values will obviously do better on Pinterest, as they will draw more attention and persuade more people to enter. However, you also need to think about your costs and the potential return on investment. You may wish to start off with a few contests that offer smaller prizes, before working on a larger competition once you have the hang of it.

3) A pinnable image for your contest

How are people going to learn about your competition and its rules? The best thing to do is to create a pinnable image that really stands out and draws attention. As Pinterest is all about images it is vitally important to make sure your contest picture looks great! Use eye-catching colours, big and bold font and highlight the main prize, so that people notice it. You may also want to include words such as “contest” or “giveaway”, as well as a call to action such as “Pin to Win” or “Enter now”.

Pinterest have now made it against the rules to make people pin or repin your contest rules. This is because the site is there to promote creativity, and contest rules can certainly be seen as spam. You can still include a summary of the main rules on your image, but it may be worth creating a page of terms and conditions on your website. This will make your image look less cluttered and will also drive traffic to your site.

4) Pick your winner

It is now against the rules to pick a winner at random, and you can no longer ask users to vote on the boards or pins that they like. With this in mind it is up to you to decide the winner! You may want to put together a ‘competition panel’ of experts, to help pick the winning entry, or perhaps you just want to do it on your own. However you want to pick a winner make sure that this is highlighted in your contest rules.

The end date should be clearly stated on your contest rules, and the date when the winners will be picked. You can leave a few days between the end date and announcing the winner, but try not to leave it too long (unless you have thousands of entries). Make another pinnable image to announce your winner and let them know how they can redeem their hard earned prize.

5) Track your results and then repeat

Remember that goal you set before the contest started? Well now is the time to measure up and see whether you achieved those goals. It could be as simple as now having more Pinterest followers or something more complex such as relevant website traffic. You can use things such as Google Analytics to see which pins are driving the most traffic to your site, as well as monitoring whether these visitors then go on to buy.

When you’re ready it’s time to repeat. Having several contests a year is a great way to keep your customers and followers engaged, as well as driving more traffic to your site. If a certain contest worked then do it again! If you found that your goals weren’t quite met then tweak your strategy and rethink your competition prize. You’ll soon find something that resonates with your audience and is perfect for marketing your creative business.