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The power of personalities

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I read a lot, whether it’s a column online, an op-ed in the Sunday paper or a good book, I have always enjoyed reading. It’s interesting to see what captures an audience though, and what collaboration of words seems to disappear into the vast empty cyber space with no more than 2-3 ‘likes’. It can be argued that some of the silliest articles have ridiculously high share counts but that wouldn’t necessarily validate the writer as brilliant, but rather they had managed to tap into a trending topic or create something really shareable…or mentioned a Kardashian.

As a publisher and founder of an opinion site that seeks to provide a platform for the myriad of voices across this country, it is imperative to have a broad network of voices that resonates with not just a niche audience but rather pockets of readers who will either love it, hate it but make them think or at the very least share it.

There are many different theories on what constitutes sharable content, which is the holy grail of all digital publishers. Scientists have even formulated a strategic approach to ensuring a post goes viral on Facebook, by way of identifying social clusters and mathematically determining the best way to spread information. It is quite fascinating, and regardless of the subject matter there is one common thread in all this information – the power of personality. There is something about an individual resonating with a writer, a YouTuber or an Instagramer that can ignite a mass following that result in commercial opportunities for the publisher.

We try to ensure the writers we publish, regardless of their political stance, status in life or writing style, have one thing going for them – the ability to tell a story, provoking thought and with the capacity to capture a concept. I don’t care if people hate the concept, that isn’t for us to determine, our job is to provide a platform. I am buoyed by the fact that we don’t need to dictate commentary or agendas, but rather are able to provide a mirror to what opinions are out there, festering in the myriad of personalities that make up the fabric of not only Australia, but now the US.

An indicator that someone will open our article and skim it before moving onto something else, is often the piece has been written with the intention to echo what was taught as the best way to approach an article. But for opinion pieces, this simply does not work and can actually be the biggest deterrent for writers trying to capture a following. People want authenticity, they want passion, they want anger, they want analysis – basically they just want you. If you can think critically, and articulate yourself in a way that can concisely communicate the message, you have a far better chance of being read, valued and ideally shared, than if you just approach your content in paint by numbers manner.

I used to think that a well known commentator would be a huge driving force on The Big Smoke for traffic, and while it is great to have had some of Australia’s most loved (and hated) public figures on the site, it’s been the power of the individual writers that have had the most impact. Whether that is a lawyer from Perth who writes a political column or a Melbourne film maker with a penchant to write about refugees – the interesting dynamics that make up the various personalities can be the catalyst for many career diversions not just for the writers themselves but the readers too.

About the author:

Alex imageAlexandra Tselios is the Founder and Publisher of The Big Smoke. provides fresh and distinctive content written by some of the country’s most recognisable voices. The Big Smoke will be launching in the US later in 2015. Alexandra Tselios is also a regular commentator on leading AM/FM radio shows across the country where she adds a fresh, quirky and informative narrative around the big topics Australians are discussing. Alexandra also enjoys dissecting the global political climate alongside and is publisher of DownUnder-Current US (Australian commentary on US politics from a safe distance). Alexandra Tselios is also the writer of a number of business columns nationally.

  • Dave

    Alexandra speaking of columnists who have big personalities how are you after the death of colleague Sam De Brito from the Herald? Shock to everyone and still a trending item on Facebook.