Only 22 diehard social media fans have been chosen to join.

By Mike Pomranz
March 31, 2020
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Back in high school, a friend and I got a bit obsessed with Mike and Ike candies, so we penned a letter to the company that makes them, Just Born. Not only did they reply with a thank you note, but also a massive box of free products—a small but generous move that’s stuck with me ever since. Of course, these days, being physical pen pals is a bit pointless, but that doesn’t mean companies aren’t still using techniques to build lifetime brand loyalty—like Frito-Lay, which reportedly hunted down its biggest fans online and invited them to join an exclusive club.

The Frito-Lay Snack Society is made of up just 22 people. And unlike Coca-Cola that opened up its Insiders Club to the first 1,000 fans, Frito-Lay enlisted the help of a tech firm called Zyper to find the biggest fans it could find on social media based on a number of specific metrics, according to Adweek. “All of the brands Zyper works with want to know who the top 1 percent of their fans are, and we help them source and identify [them],” Founder and CEO Amber Atherton told the site. “We look at a fan’s engagement, following-to-follower ratio, aesthetic style, location, demographics, activity, brand affinities and any other social data available.”

Credit: Justin Sullivan / Staff/Getty Images

So what is life like in this Snack Society? Zyper apparently has an exclusive app they use to communicate with these hand-selected members who are expected to answer surveys and, of course, create social content for places like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube and tag these posts—all under the guidance of Frito-Lay. In return, these fans reportedly get free snacks and exclusive swag, as well as access to things like new products and branded events. (One thing Adweek says they don’t get is pay.)

It begs the question, is it worth being part of this “society” if you’re essentially just being put to work for free? Well, that appears to be part of the selection process: finding people who want to be doing these things and would essentially be doing them regardless. “This gives me the opportunity to step on the other side and to make content,” one Frito-Lay Snack Society member was quoted as saying. I guess that’s a better life-skill than anything I got writing candy fan mail.