Local Olympians Win Big Through Social Media
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WEST SENECA, N.Y. -- "To look up at the TV, like at the opening ceremonies when they said ‘531 Olympians’ and my brother was one of those to represent our country, it' truly amazing," said Joelle Vanegas, sister of Olympian Matt Anderson.
The Anderson family of West Seneca has a vested interest in the 2012 Olympics.
One of their own, Matt Anderson, is part of the US Volleyball team, and Sunday, they gathered to watch him take home a win.
But they aren’t the only ones watching.
According to NBC, the opening ceremony drew 40 million viewers and was the most watched of any summer games.
One social media strategist says websites like Twitter and Facebook help drive interest in this year's games by connecting athletes to fans.
“There was no way to ever do that before, so I think it draws interest from people maybe that wouldn’t have had necessarily the same sports interest before," Bradley Gelber of Social Yeah.
It’s also been a good way for the Anderson family to keep track of Matt.
The family hasn’t been able to speak to him since he left for London.
"My cousin said Matt's trending on Twitter, and I’m like what does that mean?" said Vanegas. “I guess I’m old, I don’t know what that means, but I guess that means everyone across the world is looking at Matt Anderson. That’s unreal because he's my baby brother."
“I don’t know what his stats are,” said Anderson’s mother, Nancy. “I’ve got to check those. I watch, but I don’t know because I was too nervous watching."
Since London is in a different time zone, many of the events are aired after the fact. Gelber says this allows quicker results.
"It’s so hard now with social media in general to not know what's going on,” said Gelber. “I mean you go on for a second and there's depending on how many people you follow, you’ve got twenty different tweets on the exact same thing of what happened."
Gelber adds that it can also promote lesser known athletes such as the female athlete that took home the first gold medal this year.
"It catapults, out of nowhere, people you've never heard of into your living room or your home because I’ve never heard of her but now she's the talk on social media because she was the first to win," said Gelber.
Meantime, Anderson’s family plans to keep watching with more viewing parties in the near future.
"It's like we won a game, but it' not over. No we have to keep going," said Nancy Anderson.