What it's like to win a Foursquare Swarm Challenge

Swarm isn't hugely popular. It's certainly no Snapchat, but the service averages nine million check-ins a day, according to Foursquare, Swarm's parent company. Swarm's user base is also loyal; those of us who still regularly tap the app are diehard.

Last June, Swarm started running regular "Challenges," as part of which users can win a variety of cool stuff. To enter, you need only check-in to certain types of venues a set number of times during a specified period.

I like cool stuff, especially free cool stuff. So I checked-in and checked-in, entered Challenge after Challenge, and crossed my fingers. Months went by. Alas, no luck for lowly ol' me … until last December, when I received a most-awesome Swarm notification. I'd won the Swarm Touchdown promotion for checking into sports-related venues. Sort of.

Check out Swarm for Windows phone (opens in new tab)

What it's like to win a Swarm Challenge

First, I received a notification in the app, which informed me that I was "a potential winner." I clicked it and filled out a form within the app that requested some very basic contact information. A few days later, I got an email from a Foursquare employee who kindly told me that I'd soon hear from another staffer, who would send me some sort of form that I had to fill out to claim my winnings.

It still wasn't clear, however, what I'd won.

The grand prize for the Touchdown Challenge was a trip to see the NFL football team of your choice, along with some gear and spending money. Being a New England sports fan, the thought of heading to pricey Gillette Stadium to see the Patriots for free sounded great. The runner-up prize wasn't too shabby, either: A $100 gift certificate toward a jersey of your choice.

Swarm contacted me the next day with an "affidavit of eligibility," which made me specify that I don't work for the company and neither do any of my family members. It also let me know in the fine print that I had not won the grand prize, only one of the $100 gift certificates. Bummer. Still, a free jersey is a free jersey, right? (The person who won the grand prize caught a Dolphins game in Miami in December.)

More than a month after submitting the form, I still hadn't received a prize. Never one to forgo free cool stuff, I followed up, and the company told me my prize would be in the mail shortly. Three weeks later, a tiny, hand-addressed envelope that looked like an invitation to a child's birthday party arrived at my door. It contained a winner's card from Swarm and a $100 voucher for Fanatics.com, an online sports apparel retailer.

Takeaways from a Swarm Challenge winner

First of all, I'm a big fan of winning Swarm Challenges. You should try it some time.

I'm a New England Patriots fan, but I'm not a National Football League (NFL) fan — it's a questionable organization run by at least a few unethical people. When you purchase an officially-licensed NFL jersey, the league takes a chunk of your cash. I don't want to support the NFL, so I used my gift certificate to purchase a new Boston Celtics jersey instead.

It feels dirty to criticize Swarm and Foursquare when they just gave me $100, but some clearer communication would have been helpful. It took the company nearly two months to mail my winnings, and had I wanted to buy a spiffy new Tom Brady jersey to wear during last weekend's glorious Super Bowl win (sorry Haters), I wouldn't have had time to order one and receive it before the big game. That kind of defeats the purpose of an NFL-football-related contest.

Still: Thanks Swarm!

If you're not familiar with the app, check out Foursquare Swarm for Windows phone (opens in new tab). It's also available for Android (opens in new tab) and iOS (opens in new tab).

Al Sacco is content director of Future PLC's Mobile Technology Vertical, which includes AndroidCentral.com, iMore.com and WindowsCentral.com. He is a veteran reporter, writer, reviewer and editor who has professionally covered and evaluated IT and mobile technology, and countless associated gadgets and accessories, for more than a decade. You can keep up with Al on Twitter and Instagram.

  • I'm not that excited to win any challenge on Swarm. Not that I have ever seen one anyways. The Windows Mobile app lets you like checkins twice when taping on two different spots in the app as a single user, they stopped supporting maps, now you can't see the location of any places on either their Swarm or Foursquare app, and recently even the photo upload functionality stopped working. And creating new places is just something that Windows Mobile users have never seen. I would be really happy to see any of the above stuff come back or appear suddenly instead of challenges unfortunately.
  • Adding new places has never been available in Swarm for Windows, but it is available in Foursquare (albeit kind of hidden). You have to first search for the place nearby using the down arrow at the top, and if the place doesn't appear in the list or after you search click the ellipsis "..." bottom right and then "Add a place".
  • There is only Filter and View Map, no adding places for me. :/
  • I have contacted Foursquare several times about their plans for future updates for both (now outdated) apps. Lately some functionality on the Foursquare app has been removed for some unknown reason. Originally I was told to be patient and that exciting things were coming but a couple of weeks ago I was notified that they have no future plans to update either of their apps for Windows. This is disappointing as a longtime user of both Foursquare and Windows. I remember reading a couple of years ago that Microsoft injected some cash into Foursquare, so not sure what has happened. I use Foursquare a lot to find places in my travels. If they pull their apps from the platform I guess it will be the final of many nails in my Windows coffin.
  • Hey, I mean if your into having asterisks by your SB victories, by all means. Tape, tape, tape, Pete Carroll decision/chain of football custody, Steelers Hotel Fire Alarm...Not the first time either.
  • "I'm a New England Patriots fan, but I'm not a National Football League (NFL) fan — it's a questionable organization run by at least a few unethical people."
    Me in a nutshell.
  • I still can't find the dang pinata to hit to collect coins when you win your leaderboard on WP10. I think that I accidentally found it once, but never again. You also cannot check into places after the fact like you can on other platforms...when it asks you if you were at a place. You might get the notification asking of you were there, but then it will just take you to your history.
  • You could see the coins earned if you did not check the leaderboard within the 24 hour period before closing the week, and then navigating to Leaderboard via the notification of closing last week.
  • WAIT...we can do Challenges on the Windows app?