It wasn’t long after Pinterest became a success that we began seeing “Pin It To Win It” contests popping up everywhere. Brands and bloggers alike found this a unique way to drive traffic to a brand, and initially there was nothing in Pinterest’s Terms of Service that prohibited it.
But some of the contests became spammy, so Pinterest made a change to their rules about contests, saying you cannot do any of the below (you can read them here):
Suggest that Pinterest sponsors or endorses you or the contest.
Require people to pin from a selection—let them pin their own stuff.
Make people pin or repin your contest rules. This is a biggie.
Run a sweepstakes where each pin, repin, board, like or follow represents an entry.
Encourage spammy behavior, such as asking participants to comment.
Ask pinners to vote with pins, repins, boards, or likes.
Overdo it: contests can get old fast.
Require a minimum number of pins. One is plenty.
Most people have been pretty respectful of those somewhat contradictory rules, so Amy Lupold Bair of Resourceful Mommy Media/Global Influence was pretty surprised when she received papers from Pinterest’s legal team telling her she couldn’t do contests or sweepstakes. Here’s what the papers said:
“Now that you’re aware of our rules about contests and promotions — and the important reasons behind them — I trust you’ll follow them. The fact you happen to use Twitter in connection with contests like these is beside the point. They urge people to pin things in order to win prizes, so they violate our rules. These rules exist for the benefit and protection of our community. You and your clients need to respect those rules if you want to be part of that community.”
I find it particularly interesting that Pinterest approached a small business owner like Amy instead of, oh, maybe Macy’s—who hosted a pinning sweepstakes back in September that violated ALL of the above rules (which have been in effect since about April).
In addition, I cannot find any use of the words “contest” “sweepstakes” or “promotion” in either the Terms of Service OR the Acceptable Use policies on Pinterest; this information is only available in the Brand Guidelines section, so it’s unlikely that most people (or the average blogger) even know that contests and promotions aren’t permitted.
It will be interesting to see who Pinterest goes after next; perhaps seamstresses that suggest pinning a hem?