The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have tied for the worst record in the NFL last year, but they’re no also-rans when it comes to combining e-commerce and social media. The team used Twitter to sell a jersey for No. 1 draft pick Jameis Winston moments after selecting him, and made a similar offer before Father’s Day.

Within minutes of making Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston the first pick in the NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers turned to Twitter to sell his jersey. To keep the process straightforward, it used Twitter’s Buy button, which let consumers buy the item without leaving the social network.

Selling on Twitter, rather than linking to the retailer’s e-commerce site, helped make the experience of having the draft’s top pick “special,” says Kevin Corbett, the team’s director of digital.

The top pick is granted to the team with the worst record in the NFL. “No one really ever wants to plan on picking first because, barring a trade to get to that slot, it means you didn’t have a good season the year before,” he says. But having the top pick, which Tampa Bay has had only five times in its history, also gives a team’s fan base reason for optimism because the team has a chance to choose the best player in the draft.

That’s why the entire Bucs organization was tasked with making the most of the opportunity. Given Twitter’s recent launch of the Buy button, Corbett saw a natural fit given that many consumers turn to Twitter to follow breaking news.

About a month before the draft, Corbett and his team began working with Twitter to ensure that everything would run smoothly. Knowing that Winston was going to be the pick and that he was planning to wear No. 3 allowed the team to prepare the image that showed the front and back of the team’s jersey, which distinguished it from other sites’ product listings, as other teams couldn’t know which player they would pick or what number he would wear.

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A few days before the draft, Twitter helped the Bucs run a private test to ensure the social network’s technology was properly integrated into the back end of the team’s e-commerce site. It did. The team then ran what essentially functioned as a live test by selling the official draft hat, which the players drafted by the Bucs put on when they make their way to the podium. Then a few minutes after the pick was announced, the tweet went live. Immediately it attracted interactions: Within an hour it had 294 retweets, 233 favorites and had attracted enough sales that Corbett deemed the effort a “success,” though he declined to share specific sales figures.

Making the buying experience relatively frictionless by not requiring shoppers to leave the social network helped drive sales, he says. “They could be on a train or a bus or just walking down the street and make the purchase as soon as the news broke, right from their mobile device.”

Because of that response, the team replicated the effort on June 1, a little less than three weeks before Father’s Day, this time featuring the jersey of star defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who wears number 93 and uses the Twitter handle @Geraldini93. The team posted a tweet that said, “It’s almost #FathersDay…your dad wants a #Bucs @Geraldini93 jersey. Trust us. Buy now DIRECTLY through Twitter!” The tweet featured the Buy button so fans could buy immediately. 

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