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Sponsors tweet for Olympians

– Between photos and insights about their Olympic experience, some Olympians are turning over their social media accounts to sponsors, agreeing to quotas of postings on Twitter and Facebook and letting other people send commercial messages in their names.

The agents for U.S. figure skaters Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold say sponsors draft some of their tweets, plugging their brands.

“This is the first Olympics where I actually have a social media calendar, where an athlete has to tweet or mention something on a given day,” Gold’s agent, Yuki Saegusa, said in an interview.

“We get a list of tweets or social media things that need to be posted and then we approve them for her,” said Saegusa, senior vice president for Olympic clients at sports management giant IMG.

Although they encourage Gold to post the pre-packaged commercial tweets to her 65,000 followers herself, sometimes others do it for her.

“We want it to be from her point of view, and from her mouth and from her fingers. So we try to get her to do them – mostly,” Saegusa said.

Wagner’s IMG agent, David Baden, said athletes’ sponsorship deals are now starting to specify “how many tweets, how many Facebook mentions and even Instagram” photos they must post.

Baden, an IMG vice president for Olympic clients, said sponsors have access to Wagner’s account, so they can post commercial tweets to her 60,000 followers.

“It’s not like Ashley doesn’t know about these. I mean we send her all these. She had to approve all of them, and so it’s not that she does not know what is being said. She’s seen it. She’s part of this whole process,” he said.

After the Feb. 7 opening ceremony Gold sent out an Instagram photo of herself holding a lipstick applier. “Couldn’t forget the red lips,” it read.

As well as CoverGirl, her Twitter profile lists other sponsors: Visa, United Airlines, Procter & Gamble Family, Smucker’s, Pandora Jewelry and Airweave.

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