Church's Chicken Flashes Cash to Get Twitter Followers

Chain Will Be Giving $1,000 'Donations' as Part of Social-Media Drive

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Church's Chicken, determined to build a social-media base, announced that it's willing to pay for followers. What's each one worth? About $1.

This is the official "launch" of @ChurchsChicken, a Twitter handle that's been active since Jan. 28. To reach its goal of 10,000 followers in the next 30 days, Church's will contribute $1 for every follower in hopes of giving $1,000 back to 10 lucky charity cases -– to be selected at random.

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"Church's Chicken is committed to making a real impact in the lives of our customers," Church's CEO Harsha V. Agadi said in a statement.

@ChurchsChicken followers will get tips about which market has been selected for the next giveaway. (Hint: The first stop will be in the Southwest.) Mr. Agadi will then appear at a Church's restaurant and pick a customer who looks like he or she is in need of $1,000. The customer can then keep the money or "pay it forward" to a charity. (Hmmmmm. Decisions, decisions.) The chain hopes to do this at least 10 times, assuming it can get the followers.

With Ashton Kutcher now closing in on 1.5 million followers, how hard could it be? But barring an Oprah bump, Church's may have an uphill battle. At the moment the chain, which has been Tweeting away for a few months now, has 705 followers. And it remains to be seen how long you can hold on to one after calling him a charity case. (By comparison, @popeyeschicken has 3,698 followers and @kfc_colonel has 1,349.)

Undaunted, Church's CMO, Farnaz Wallace, noted in a statement that "pioneering brands" can measure reach and influence in "an emerging and rapidly growing online community." Perhaps Church's is one of them. "Word of mouth, a great form of communication and 'real' endorsement, has not only gone electronic but truly global with techno-savvy customers leading the charge," Ms. Wallace said.

Church's itself currently has about 1,600 locations in 21 countries.