BNOCs and Brands

BNOCsHumble blogger or nimble blogger? Are big-brand pay cheques making online influencers less girl-next-door and more girl-on-tour? Could today’s power bloggers not only be alienating brands but the fans who can no longer relate to their inflated bank accounts? And if so, what next?

Enter BNOCs, the newest wave of everyday influencers. An acronym for Big Name On Campus, BNOCs are temporary, hyper local ‘celebrities’ whose transience and informality offers negotiation power for brands wanting to engage them, and real-life relatability to their audiences. With over 43,000 mentions* of #BNOC on social media, the phenomena is growing.

BNOCs exist in universities. Remember those campus faces who managed to win the playground popularity contest? If 69% of students* are more likely to buy a product when it’s recommended by a friend, imagine if it was recommended by a friend who’s also something of a popular local celeb?

During my days at Boston College, one particular figure stood out. He dared to be different but mastered the art of having credible social appeal to polarized groups. What BNOC Ryan did, set the tone; which pub to go to, event to attend or attitude to have. This was capitalized upon by the same pubs, clubs and even various college bodies; impacting much of my whereabouts during those years.

But it’s not just restricted to the world of academia. BNOCs are just as likely to be unexpected forces online: think of Instagram’s #hotdudesreading that encourages people to identify a BNOC-a-minute by uploading images of handsome strangers reading books. In turn, the hot dude images are curated and featured on the high reach Instagram account.



Sometimes, BNOCs are born out of trending stories – here one minute, gone the next, but for a brief moment, everyone is talking about them. Who can forget the guy who bought a round the world ticket for his girlfriend and searched the world for her namesake to inherit the ticket when they broke up? Both BNOCs encapsulate the growing trend of audience identified influence – hard to predict but if harnessed, a powerful opportunity for brands.

So, 4 BNOC lessons for you to bear in mind:

1. Success comes from being fleet of foot once a BNOC has been identified: he or she may have a short shelf life, but it’s a powerful one – you’re going to have to make quick decisions

2. Don’t stand still: constantly reassess who your next BNOC might be

3. Capitalise on the temporary shelf life of BNOCs when negotiating fees

4. Help your consumers identify BNOCs in their own offline and online communities, allowing them to choose their own endorsement

We need to harness unconventional influence, like the BNOC phenomenon, to a higher degree than we currently do. The opportunities to engage with BNOCs are endless; our job is to find and continuously evaluate the most appropriate vehicle for them. Flexibility and fast-action has never been so important.