How to Drive Engagement on Pinterest: Duncan Hines, eBay, One Kings Lane

Posted on by Patricia Odell

Twelve million users (and counting) can’t be wrong: Pinterest is the new social media hit. But as many brands have learned, it’s not enough to simply post a catalog on Pinterest and hope that users interact with it. Every social media platform needs a strategic plan, and Pinterest, as the third largest social network is no different. Here are some of the best practices for engaging followers on Pinterest with examples from socially innovative brands.

Sweepstakes and Contests

To engage followers on Pinterest (a pin at right) brands need to acquire them. The good news is that the tried-and-true methods of building and engaging fan bases on other social media platforms also work on Pinterest. And while Pinterest currently has no advertising platform like Facebook and Twitter, a brand can run a sweepstakes or a contest. Promotions of these types are a great way to build followers, increase the viral spread of a brand’s content and stimulate brand advocacy.

The not-so-good news is that sweepstakes and contests can be tricky to manage on Pinterest from a technical and fulfillment standpoint. Take a cue from agencies or brands that have already run a promotion on Pinterest. There are a number of examples to choose from now that weren’t available a few months ago.

eBay, for example, recently ran a Mother’s Day repin sweepstakes on Pinterest, encouraging shoppers to curate a Mother’s Day-themed board of their favorite gift ideas from eBay. The promotion increased eBay’s Pinterest following by almost 700%, and items from eBay were repinned more than 600 times by the end of the promotion—significant viral spread that connected a community of eBay shoppers and raised awareness of eBay as a gifting destinationon a platform well-suited for Mother’s Day.

A vital tip is to have clear communication between the brand and Pinterest users on how to enter and how to contact someone at the organization or at Pinterest for questions. Pinterest doesn’t have strict promotions guidelines yet, but that doesn’t mean your promotion shouldn’t be well structured and easy-to-enter.

User Generated Content

Another way to engage users and really encourage them to repin is to use user-generated content. When done in the correct way, this is a perfect opportunity to diversify the content on a brand’s Pinterest profile without violating anyone’s rights.

One way to appropriately leverage user content is through a user-generated contest. One Kings Lane held a contest in which users submitted tote bag designs for a chance to get their design printed and sold on One Kings Lane. Thirty finalists were selected and added to Pinterest where users could vote for their favorites by repinning them. The designs had almost 1,600 repins in five days. Based on the campaign's success, One Kings Lane is ran another contest that ended May 25 for a chance to win a $1,000 gift card and the opportunity to curate a sale on One Kings Lane. 

A brand can also leverage user content by asking communities to post their content on Facebook or Twitter to be included on a brand’s Pinterest board. Expressly asking permission to post a user’s content on Pinterest and giving the content proper attribution avoids any issues that may arise from simply pinning or repinning content the brand doesn’t own. Generally, brands should stick to only pinning content they own to avoid any legal trouble related to copyright infringement. 

Pin Chains

For everyday engagement, brands can create content that gets more repins and comments than the average product pin simply by thinking creatively. Asking an open-ended question, for instance, generates proven engagement on other platforms and can be done on Pinterest in the form of “pin chains.” Pin chains are similar to the chain-emails that used to flood your inbox (and you might occasionally still get one from your mom) but are inspiring rather than annoying.

Duncan Hines recently posted an image with the question, “If you could only have one dessert for the rest of your life, what would it be?” and asked users to repin the image with their answer. As followers repin it for their followers to repin, it creates a chain of pins and a ton of comments. So far, Duncan Hines is the only brand to create a pin chain. 

These examples are just a few ways to jumpstart your engagement on Pinterest, but they are certainly not the only ones. New social platforms reward brands that experiment with different tactics. What works on Facebook or Twitter might not work as well on Pinterest, and what works for one brand might not work for another. While these tips will help with some ideas, the only way to find out what really works is to try it and see. Happy Pinning!

Jaime Hoerbelt is social media strategist with Tenthwave. She can be reached at ‎


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