Zaxby’s is kicking off its new college football and basketball sponsorship with the unveiling of its “Check-in For Chicken” new mobile app and social rewards program.

As one of the first of its kind in the limited-service industry, the interactive website and iOS app enable Zaxby’s fans to engage with the brand beyond its restaurants.

Zaxby’s “Check-in for Chicken” program encourages users to link their social media accounts—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and others—to receive points for engaging in social activities with the brand.

“Zaxby’s fan base has grown exponentially since we opened the doors to our first restaurant. Our guests’ passion for our chicken drives us to continuously develop new and innovative ways to connect with them,” says Zach McLeroy, CEO and cofounder of Zaxby’s. ‘The ‘Check-in For Chicken’ social rewards program helps us deliver on our goal to exceed expectations and provide our fans a superior experience.”

Participants can interact in many ways, including uploading photos, updating their status, and inviting friends. The mobile app also allows users to locate the nearest restaurant, check-in at Zaxby’s, and view their points on the leaderboard.

Users redeem points for entries to win fun and exclusive prizes, including free Zaxby’s for a year and a trip and tickets to the 2014 college football national championship game in Pasadena, California.

The new social rewards program and mobile app are a joint collaboration between St. John & Partners, Zaxby’s advertising and digital agency, and social platform Lodestone Social Media.

“Zaxby's is a brand that's been built on the engagement of its fans. We decided to not just leverage that fanaticism, but to also reward it and incentivize it,” says Shane Santiago, vice president and digital director of St. John & Partners. “These brand advocates are already broadcasting on their social networks about Zaxby's, so we hope to give them an opportunity to win prizes for actions they’re already taking, and to let our brand become the platform for their conversations.”

Mark Drosos, cofounder and president of Lodestone Social Media, adds, “Technology and social media have changed the way a consumer connects to a brand. Zaxby’s is leading the [quick-service] industry with its understanding that a loyalty program has to go beyond simply rewarding the consumer for a purchase and instead incorporate the brand into the consumer’s lifestyle. It’s about allowing consumers to engage with the brand on their terms, when they want and how they want.”

The social rewards program is part of Zaxby’s two-year college sports sponsorship with 28 Division I colleges in the 13 states where Zaxby’s restaurants are located. Fans can visit or download the free mobile app in the iTunes online store to participate.

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