Pinterest updates guidelines on "pin it to win it" contests

Author: Curtis Silver
Published: October 25, 2013 at 9:05 am

As social networks evolve they change, internally and externally, from start-up minded revolutions to full fledged corporations. It should be noted they were corporations from the start, and users just operated under a veiled naivety forgetting that the singular goal of corporations is to make money. Facebook filed an IPO, expanded their ad network and users seemed confused. Twitter is following suit, yet users still think somehow these social networks are not after the all mighty dollar. Now, Pinterest is defining their network, showing that they are not only a powerful social platform, but a business as well.
Founded in 2009, Resourceful Mommy Media is one of the largest social media outreach and global influence companies in the United States, and one of the most active. Amy Lupold Bair founded the company with the intention to bring her marketing expertise and affable demeanor to a larger audience all for the good of brands willing to give a few things away. Major brands work with Lupold Bair and her team to promote their products, services or initiatives. This happens through Twitter parties (which Lupold Bair is credited with founding) and other social network related interactions. Often, Lupold Bair's Twitter Party hashtags become global trending topics in a matter of minutes. Utilizing all social networks, including Pinterest, Lupold Bair has built a business around social sharing and interaction. She also trademarked the term "pinning parties" in relation to social media.
These variation of Twitter parties, that involve Pinterest, are commonly called "Pinning Parties" in which participants are encouraged to pin during parties, but never required. Lupold Bair has been careful over the years to follow the guidelines that Pinterest sets forth, never requiring party participants to use Pinterest, simply suggesting it. Also, all contest winners are picked from Twitter, using the particular hashtag for the party.
To be fair, there are a list of bullet points in the Brand Guidelines section of their Terms of Service, but who do they apply to and are they enforceable? Paragraph 2b of the terms of service gives Pinterest the right to modify user content, which is anything you post. The guidelines are a nice way of saying do it this way. Or else. Legally binding? Enforceable? To the point of removing Pinterest accounts one by one of people participating in Pinning Parties, yes.
  • 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.
It is not the word that Pinterest is contesting (though they have a justified case for requesting a change of ownership in that trademark), rather they are requesting that Resourceful Mommy Media does not enforce the trademark (knowing that Lupold Bair doesn't have the legal clout to fight it) and shut down pinning events. That means the hundreds of "pinning parties" that are a huge motivator for people to use the network will have to cease immediately.
As Lupold Bair states in her blog post on the issue; "Pin it to Win it contests are far more popular right now than Twitter Parties ever will be. And Pinterest has now said they must go away or the brands and bloggers will face consequences." The question is; will Pinterest be going after the numerous brands and companies running a constant stream of contests? Take this contest from Kraft for instance. Or this one from Macy's that violates pretty much all of the guidelines. It should be noted that Pinning Parties are much different than pin it to win it contests, in which pinning is required. Lupold Bair's parties do not require pinning, only suggest it and encourage interaction with the social network. For whatever guidelines she might cross, these brands are examples of pin it to win it contests in clear violation of the set guidelines.
The thing is, Pinterest in no way directly encourages pinning parties or pin it to win it contests. They appear to never have, or never will. Their brand guidelines appear to limit contests, yet allow a slim window of being able to use the network in that fashion without repercussion. Either way, Pinterest has cleared up the ambiguity of their guidelines by adding those guidelines to their acceptable use policy and publishing a blog post on the subject. Whether this means they will be going after larger brands for violation of the policy is unknown, though they did state to Lupold Bair via email, "These rules apply to all contests using Pinterest. We're a small team, so we have to prioritize our enforcement and for now, our highest priority is impact on the Pinterest community. Our intention in reaching out to you about the contest rules was to make sure you're aware of them and to have an open dialogue about how to best run a contest or promotion. We want everyone in the Pinterest community to be aware of the rules, and when we see contests that are breaking them, we make the same request of the contest sponsor that we made of you."
The good news is that these rules are being changed and enforced to end the slew of contest spam that Pinterest and its users have to put up with on a daily basis. Marketers, brands and bloggers will have to adapt and find new ways to involve Pinterest in their contests and activities. Regardless, Pinterest has a long way to go in clarifying and enforcing these rules, but their point of view is valid. They stated via email, "We don't want people to feel like they have to Pin things they don't like because it will help them win something. That's bad for the community and we just wanted to clarify this. We also wanted to make it possible for anyone to have a Pinning party without being threatened with legal action. translating Pinterest to real life through things like Pinning parties have been a huge part of what we do. The last thing we want is for these things to stop. We just want everyone to be able to enjoy them without feeling like they're going to get in trouble for it".


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Article Author: Curtis Silver

Former Co-Executive Editor of Visit

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