How to Run a Successful Pinterest Contest

Successful Pinterest Contesting Tips

Pinterest Contest Guide
One of the things I love most about working in the Internet industry is that we never stop learning. There is always something new to try and offer our clients and I personally love learning just as much as I enjoy teaching. We’ve recently been hard at working learning as much as possible from top Social Media Experts at the Social Success Marketing Summit. The following Pinterest Contest Guide was inspired by a recent webinar by Melanie Duncan.

How to Run a Successful Pinterest Contest

Running a Pinterest contest is a great way to gain new followers, increase traffic to your website, obtain new leads, and increase sales for your business. Within this guide, we will discuss useful tips and guidelines for running a successful contest on the Pinterest platform.

Pinterest Contest Do’s and Don’ts

1. Read Pinterest’s anti-spam guidelines and contest guidelines.
2. Remember that Pinterest is all about inspiration.
3. Reward inspired pinning.
4. Make it easy to participate and make your guidelines clear.
5. If you are going to reference Pinterest in your contest, review their branding guidelines.

1. Ask Pinterest to sponsor or promote your contest. This is greatly frowned upon!
2. Make people pin or repin your contest rules.
3. Run a sweepstakes in which each action (pin, repin, new board, follow, like) counts as an entry.
4. Require comments or any other potentially spam-related behavior.
5. Require a minimum number of pins.
6. Ask for votes with pins, repins, boards, or likes.

Strategy & How to Build a Contest

One of the most important aspects of running a Pinterest contest is having a strategy. Before starting your contest, determine your guidelines, the goal of your contest, and what you will award to winners.

1. Contest Type
The first step in building a successful Pinterest contest is determining your ultimate goal.

a. To gain more followers: Require entrants to follow you on Pinterest.
b. To gain traffic to your website: Ask entrants to create a new board with your company’s name in the title and have them pin their favorite images from your website (and other images about your company) to the new board. You can also run a campaign similar to this with the goal of increasing brand awareness.
c. To increase sales: Offer a select number of items for a possible giveaway and ask entrants to pin their favorites. Another option is to have entrants pin images of them using your product.

Once you establish your contest goal, create a clear outline of contest guidelines for participants. Keep it simple so your contest is easy to enter. You’ll receive more entries this way!

2. Contest Marketing

a. Don’t limit your contest promotion to Pinterest. Instead, utilize your other social networks, your website, and your mailing list as channels on which to promote your Pinterest contest.
b. Create an eye-catching contest page on your website and use this as “home base” for your contest. This gives participants a gateway to your website as well as a location to refer back to after the contest is over. This is also a great place to host key images you would like to see pinned as part of your contest.
c. Create an eye-catching “pinnable” image to help launch your contest and spread the word. This should be colorful, include your brand, and include a call to action such as “pin to win”. This should also include a buzzword such as “promotion” or “giveaway” and mention of what the prize will be.

3. Selecting Winners
There are three main ways to select a winner for your contest:

a. Collect votes. (For example, a “like” counts as one vote and a “repin” counts as two votes.)
b. Judge based on criteria such as the number of repins an entry received or pin creativity.
c. Run a sweepstakes and select the winner at random. (try a service like to help you with this one)

Whichever method you choose, be sure to be up front with entrants in your contest guidelines!

4. Contest Follow-up
a. If you collected email addresses for all participants, notify them of the winner via email and offer everyone a discount or other small prize for their participation.
b. If signing up on your mailing list was not an entrance requirement for your contest, notify contest winners via pin comment and also update the contest page on your website to reflect this information.

Additional Pinterest Contest Tips

• Choose a great prize! Tangible items tend to work best.
• Whatever your method of notification, offer a small, limited-time discount to all contest participants. This will continue to drive interest and sales.
• Run your contest for approximately 10 days to prevent your promotion from being too short to be noticed or too long to keep people interested.
• After your contest ends, change the text on your website contest page to let participants know that it has ended and that you will inform them when the next contest begins. Have a form available for them to sign up on your mailing list.
• Pinterest offers “Pin It” buttons for you to use at:

Your Turn

Do you have any successful contest campaigns you want to share or questions about Pinterest? Please post in the comments below.

What is DNS?

DNS = Domain Name Service

DNS compared to Postal Service


Have you ever experienced your website being down and your webmaster or site administrator tell you “it’s a DNS issue”? DNS stands for Domain Name Service and it is what tells all the servers on the Internet where to find your website. Imagine millions of servers all over the world having to take zillions of requests for all kinds of different websites on browsers a gajillion times a day!

Think about it like the postal service
DNS is what enables your website to be served to a visitor when they request your domain name in a browser. I like to think of it like the central post office or postal or zip code system. Your Domain Name is registered on a domain name service provider like Network Solutions,,, or many other domain name registrars. These registrars tell anyone requesting a website through a browser, where to find that website, i.e. the server address which is usually in the form of an IP address. IP just means Internet Protocol. Since we’re on the Internet, the Protocol or method is just a language, or directive to tell one computer where to send the visitor to find your site.

Imagine a world where none of the postal workers understood zip codes or city names? When your DNS is down or not working for a minute that is what happens on the Internet. DNS is what point the request to the right server. The server then interprets the domain name, figures out where the site is hosted and show you the correct webpage. And this all happens within a matter of milliseconds.

The technology is quite amazing actually, kind of like electricity, where you just flip a switch and have light or energy, like mobile phone service, when we can talk over the “air.” DNS is a small piece of Internet with a lot of power. For example Network Solutions was down for about two hours this morning and many many customers were without their websites. If your website is your livelihood, this can be very damaging to your business and the only thing you can do is wait until your domain name service provider fixes the issue. It’s frustrating for everyone, but ultimately it makes us understand the value of a good domain name service provider.

DNS Issue Service Alert from Network Solutions on Twitter


Your DNS provider is usually the same as your domain name registrar, but in some cases it may be different. Usually your website is hosted on a different server altogether as well excerpt if your host is GoDaddy. They do both domain name registration and web hosting and their business model is to offer you cheap domain registration so that you will also buy hosting and other services from them.

Who is your DNS provider?
Would you like to find out? There’s a handy dandy site for that called “Whois.” Go to: and enter your domain name and click “Go.” The whois site will return who your registrar is and where your domain name server lives. Why is this helpful? Well, you could look up the DNS provider and see if there are any service issues happening and you will feel better informed. Knowledge is power. It’s one of those things, when it’s working you never think about it, but when it’s not, it is very painful.

Do you have more questions or thoughts about DNS? Please enter them in the comment area below.

How to Add Social Icons to Your Gmail Signature

Add Social Icons to Your Gmail Signature in 21 Easy Steps

Since we’re all tweeting, sharing, liking, linking, connecting and blogging these days, I’ve had a few requests from people asking how to show social icons in their email signature.

It’s easy enough to do it manually every time you send an email, but if you want to automate the process and really have the icons in your signature line, the trick is in being able to host the icons on a server somewhere and not linking or inserting the icons from your local computer.

If you would like to use any of the following icons, I got them from who offers them for free. The social icons you see below were downloaded from and then uploaded them to my server, so that we can link to them individually for use in an email signature.

Step by Step

  1. First make sure you know the URLs (web addresses) to each of your social media profiles.

    For example, mine are:



    Google Plus:

    See if you don’t have a Facebook Vanity URL (custom username) yet.
    See to get a shortened URL for your GooglePlus page

  1. Now go back go Gmail.
  2. Click Compose mail in Gmail.
  3. Make sure the rich-text editor is enabled: if you see “Rich formatting »” right above the message’s text composition area, click it. This will change from plain text to rich-text editor.
  4. Now Click Discard, because you don’t need to compose a new message yet.
  5. Click the Settings gear in your Gmail inbox’s toolbar. Look for the gear symbol in the top right area of your gmail screen.Gmail settings gear button
  6. Now select Settings from the menu that appears.
  7. Go to the General tab.
    General Settings tab in Gmail
  8. Scroll down until you see the Signature option.Gmail Signature Creation
  9. Make sure the signature entry area (or the desired account) is selected under Signature:
  10. Enter the text for your signature.
  11. Position the text cursor where you want the image to appear in your signature.
  12. Click Insert Image in the signature’s formatting toolbar.
    For image icons you may copy from the following: note that you MUST use the complete URL, with plus the icon filename in the URL or the image will not show. This is just how email works. All URL must be absolute URLs, and exist somewhere out on the web, or your images will not show to other people, even if they are showing for you when you link to them from your own computer.So, copy one of the above links in full.
    Then click Insert Image in the signature’s formatting toolbar.Paste the URL(link) into the Image URL field.
    Insert your social icon image
  1. Click OK.
  2. Now highlight the icon you want to add your social network profile link to. (The Google Plus icon below is highlighted.)Highlight social icon for inserting a hyperlink
  3. Insert the text of the link for the icon you highlighted. In my case the link is to my Google Plus Vanity URL which is hyperlink for social icon
  4. Click OK.
  5. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the “Save Changes” button.
  6. Compose a test message to yourself or a good friend (or me) and test all the icon links to make sure they are going to the right place.
  7. Make any corrections and then you’re good to go and people may click on your social network icons to view any of your social networking profiles.
  8. Happy socializing on the social networks!

Have you noticed any increases in visibility since adding social icons to your email? Do you have any other tips for making your social accounts more visible to the people that you are communication with regularly? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

3 Ways to Understand Your Twitter Statistics

Twitter Statistics in 3 Ways

Knowing and understanding your Twitter Statistics is a good way to motivate yourself to continue posting quality content on the Twitter network. Posting on Twitter is as much about knowledge sharing and listening, as it is about having conversations and networking in up to 140 characters at a time.

Until a couple of weeks ago, we used to be able to track our Twitter Grade using a free tool which was offered by Hubspot called Twitter Grader. Sadly, this tool has been retired and replaced with Marketing Grader.  Marketing Grader has some benefits, but I know there will be a lot of people missing Twitter Grader. That’s the problem with free tools though, the developer may decide to discontinue offering them at any time.

So where do we go to measure the success of our Twitter presence?

1. Twitter Counter will show you how long you’ve been on Twitter and allow you to compare your twitter handle with one other handle at a time. It will also show you your worldwide reach and provide simple charts showing your growth.  If you want to track your Twitter follower growth you can do that with a free version of the account as well.  The pro version offers a lot more detail including historical data, number of mentions and retweets, and PDF reports. The pro offering looks like a great option for agencies.

2. RetweetRank will allow you to measure yourself up with a retweet rank number and percentile. If you log in with your twitter account, you’ll see how many retweets you’ve received and tweets you’ve posted over the past week. If you want to specify a date range to get more of those statistics, you’ll need to upgrade to the pro version, which starts at $5/month for a personal account. There is a 14 day free trial though, and I believe the best way to learn is to through playing, so I encourage you to try it before you buy it and get to know your Twitter retweet ranking statistics quickly.

3. Tweetstats has lots of pretty charts for you to drool over and all it requests is a donation. This one is well worth exploring, just know that it may take a bit of patience before it shows you all of your (or your competitor’s) Twitter statistics and charts.

Twitter Statistics on

There is also a new analytics feature that Twitter itself has recently rolled out. See It started out being only available to Twitter advertisers, i.e. people or businesses who advertise on Twitter. Stay tuned to see if Twitter rolls out analytics for individual accounts holders who are not yet advertising.

What are your favorite tools for measuring Twitter statistics? Do you miss Twitter Grader? And what do you think about Marketing Grader? Please share your thoughts in the comment area below.

How to Get Followers on Twitter

 9 Tactics for Twitter:

How to Get Started and How to Get Followers on Twitter

  1. Create your Twitter profile making sure you have:
    1. A smiley profile photo of yourself (or your logo)
    2. A customized background for your Twitter page with showing all your social media links. See
    3. Follow five other people and/companies in your industry and/or with interests similar to yours.
    4. Search on Twitter for keywords related to your industry or interests. Follow 20 of those people each day.
    5. Tweet about topics related to your business and/or interests.  A good plan for tweeting is:
      1. Action, i.e. a link to an interesting article
      2. Action, i.e. a link to something entertaining
      3. Random thought, i.e. something you are thinking or something you did
      4. Action
      5. Question
      6. Start at item a again and keep cycling through the list
      7. Tweet about other people 12 times more than you tweet about yourself.
      8. Unfollow people who are not following you back unless they are highly valuable for some reason. Use or
      9. Participate in conversations on Twitter by tweeting at people in your industry and retweeting tweets that may be interesting to your followers.
      10. It’s ok to post about yourself occasionally, but make sure it’s 20% of the time and not 80% of the time.

Don’t just take it from me, read the following great articles as well:

Promises, Another in the 7 P’s of Marketing

Promises, promises, promises.

Promise to keep them and you’re one step closer to making it with social media marketing. Promises is the seventh P in the new P’s in Marketing. The previous several posts on this topic are explained here.

Promises Guarantee

“Package it up to look pretty.”
“Pack in a great punch line.”
“Where’s the hook, please?”
“Position the message.”

These old marketing tactics are soon to be replaced by authentic referrals, real value, pride and passion. Brand influencers are worth more than gold and social media is relentless about brands that don’t live up to their word.

Think about all of the review sites. Yelp! reviews, TripAdvisor etc. People are all too willing to share their experiences of products and services for the greater good of the community.

Promises are often made too lightly causing law suits for false advertising and negative comments about your brand or offering. Afterall, happy customers might tell a few friends, but angry customers 3,000.

Since we’re in a world of word of mouth, promises made are even more important to keep, because if you don’t keep your promises, the community will out you and your shady marketing in less time than it takes to even say your company name.

So what are your thoughts? Do you have other words and/or concepts starting with P to add to the list? Do you follow the 4 P’s in Marketing? Do you think it’s time to shift to the 7 P’s instead? Please add your comments (and promises) below.

Partnerships, the 6th P in Marketing

Partnerships are key in new media marketing.

What makes perfect partnerships in business?

To be social means to have and form partnerships of all kinds. Whether it’s a partnership in the form of becoming a fan or follower, a friendship with a high school classmate, a business partnership or simply a meetup group for learning and expanding your contacts, partnerships are prevalent in marketing today. They always have been, but if you look at the most successful businesses today, it’s those that have been most strategic and smart with their partnerships.

Google’s Larry Page and Sergei Brin were the original dream team who started Google. They then hired Eric Schmidt to create a partnership that resulted in the beginning of profits for the company. Google purchased many a young startup company including Blogger, Picasa, and YouTube and those partnerships even if they were acquisitions has served to increase profitability exponentially over time. Google also partners with its customers by helping them make money for themselves through their core product, Google AdWords. They provide many tips, tools and tutorials for advertisers and reward customers who are performing well with better pricing and higher rankings.

Facebook has partnered with several third party application developers, (such as Votigo and Involver) service providers (like Spotify and Instagram) and game developers (like Zynga) in order to keep their user base. We partner with twitter users every time we reciprocate a follow, retweet or enter into public conversations. No solitary person can exist in a vacuum and certainly no marketing can happen without anyone around. In the conversation economy, word of mouth is a world of mouth. People and partnerships are crucial for business and even more crucial in social media marketing.

What are your favorite examples of winning partnerships in business today or from the past? Please add your thoughts in the comments area below.

Participation is Marketing

Participation is Marketing

Participation is Marketing

Brian Solis said, “Participation is marketing.” This has never been truer than with social media marketing. We cannot market unless we participate and being there and showing up is actually just one part of the success model.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter said in a TedX talk called the Six Keys to Leading Positive Change, that the keys all include “ups.” They are:
1. Show Up
2. Speak Up (Use the power of voice to shape and influence others’ thinking)
3. Look Up
4. Team Up (Partners matter)
5. Never Give Up (Everything looks like failure in the middle)
6. Lift Others Up (Find your inner Nelson Mandela)

Nelson Mandela. Participation is Marketing.

All of the above keys embody participation. If you’re just dipping your toe in the ocean of social networks and social media marketing, jump in, because in my humble opinion, learning through experience is the only way to learn.

Proximity is Better than Place in the P’s of Marketing

Proximity - location based systems provide convenience

Proximity, ie. Location, location, location

Although very similar to Place, in origin of the word, proximity is important in social media marketing because of our evolution to being consumers of smart phones, and mobile devices. With Social Mobile Local (SoMoLo) comes many check-in applications where people can share their exact location and thereby vote for products and venues based on their visit to a particular store, restaurant or other venue.

Proximity indicates where you are located in the world, whether near or far and allows for marketers to effectively create value for you based on your physical and geographic location.

Proximity has opened up a whole new way of marketing for local businesses including those brave enough to try group buying coupon/deal services like Groupon, LivingSocial, Bloomspot, and Yipit (to name only a few). Proximity is about place, but it’s not about the marketer wanting to have the product on the shelf at eye-level. It’s about reaching out to people who are already nearby or who have friends nearby, providing value in the form of convenience and connection. It’s about reaching people where they are, ie. adding value instead of paying for placement.

How are you using proximity and SoLoMo in your business?

Passion is not a pitfall

Passion is P Number 3

“Hire for passion, train for skills,” is a quote I heard on a recent Social Media Examiner podcast. The people that are the most passionate about what they do are the ones we remember most; they are also the most prolific and usually the most profitable.

What would happen if you hired a social media manager who was your number one fan? Passion is admirable, charming and inspiring. It’s positive, decisive and purposeful. It’s about pleasure and growth through pain. That love and obsession with something is what pulls us through the hard times and leads to pure happiness and ultimate satisfaction.

You won’t find a more driven and determined person than that person who is most passionate about your (or their own) brand, business or project and success.

So, look for passion first, then train them or collaborate with them to reach your goals. And if you’re thinking along the lines of volunteers or brand influencers, seek the most passionate there as well. It’s not only sex that pays!

Mad Scientist with passion

What gets you up in the morning?

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