Teach Business Today #10

Social media, repositioning strategies, and best practices

Are you teaching physically or from home?

Many of us didn’t choose to be educators to work from home. We love the face-to-face connection that happens daily.

We see our students grow and move on to better things, knowing we played a part in a chapter of their lives.

But what would it take for you to teach from home full-time?

Click the tweet to chime in and see what others had to say.

Now, onto this week’s content.


1. TikTok by Microsoft

The privacy debate with TikTok is an entirely different discussion. What we should focus on with this is why Microsoft is pushing to purchase it.

Students will have some varying opinions on why it’s a good or bad idea for TikTok to be acquired by Microsoft. This article gives some good insight, but the discussion will get carried further.

My students don’t have a great opinion, but I believe a lot of it is fueled by the lack of Microsoft products in our division. I’m interested to know what your students think.

Discussion Points:

  • Why is Microsoft, a company that has largely focused on developing their own apps, wanting to buy an existing company?

  • How will the acquisition of TikTok assist Microsoft in its competition with Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon?

  • Is Microsoft still relevant for the teenage demographic? Why/why not?

  • How can Microsoft use the data they’d receive from TikTok?

Assignment Idea:

If you’re comfortable using TikTok in the classroom, students can get pretty creative with this one.

If you want students to provide responses to the above discussion points or create an entirely different assessment, they can do so on TikTok to share with the rest of the class.

Another idea would be for students to look at the positives and negatives of Microsoft acquiring TikTok and create a TikTok about it. This can give students a deeper understanding of Microsoft and the competition between the five major tech companies we use daily.

2. Less Control = Stronger Influencer Marketing

Students know what influencers are. Odds are that most (if not all) of your students on social media follow a number of influencers in different industries.

Don’t waste time on that description. Instead, focus on how they make money doing what they love.

Marketing is my favourite course to teach because each year is different. There are always new breakthroughs to reach customers, and it’s important that we teach our students how to be innovative.

You’ll want to include this piece by Ian Borthwick to not only show students the impact influencer marketing can have once the brands give up control, but also how much social media continues to impact brand marketing.

Discussion Points:

  • How has influencer marketing affected your purchasing decisions? Are you more likely to buy something because it’s recommended by someone you follow on social media?

  • Why do relational ads connect more with the audience, even if they don’t directly identify the brand/product?

  • Is giving the influencer creative control too risky for your business?

  • What are the next evolutions in influencer marketing?

Assignment Idea:

Students can use an existing, fictitious, or their own business brand to create a collaboration between the brand and an influencer of their choosing.

The requirements I plan to give students when building this are to:

  • Choose a specific medium/channel that’s specific to your target audience (example: video on YouTube, video/photo on Instagram, audio ad on a podcast)

  • Pick an influencer and justify why you chose that person

  • Develop the ad with a relational focus instead of a transactional focus

Bonus points if the students develop the ad versus coming up with a written description. I always push the creative piece to get students practicing different skills and to show their personality.

3. Kodak Enters the Pharmaceutical Business

Yes, it’s the same Kodak you remember.

Repositioning is a fun topic to teach. It’s interesting when you see students realize that not all companies that exist today started with the goods or services they currently offer.

Seeing a company transition from manufacturing film ingredients to pharmaceutical ingredients is a big shift, but it could have major payoffs.

And at the very least, it did for their shareholders. After the announcement, Kodak’s stock jumped over 500%.

That’s an entirely different lesson.

Discussion Points:

  • Do you believe a company can make such a drastic change to their business practices and still be successful?

  • What do you think it will take for Kodak to be able to successfully develop pharmaceuticals in their plants?

  • How does this impact the US and the global economy? If more countries are able to manufacture their own pharmaceutical ingredients, what will that do to pricing and availability?

Assignment Idea

Have students research companies that are either failing or have filed for bankruptcy. This shouldn’t be hard with the impact COVID-19 had on the retail industry.

Individuals or groups can then develop a repositioning plan for that company to create rebirth. The plan should be thorough and analyze the new competitors it will be going against.

Another option is to look at previous companies that have repositioned themselves and analyze what impact that change had on the company as a whole. However, this is a lot less fun for students. I typically do this as a discussion piece with students leading up to the above idea.

4. A How-To on Creating

I love these transparency threads as a tool for students.

Many students have creative ideas, but no direction on how to start them. When I don’t have the answer, I turn them towards people like Cullin and encourage them to reach out for guidance. You’d be surprised at how many will respond and are willing to help out.

Some of the best resources you can use are others. Don’t be afraid to look at social media as one of the best teacher tools at your disposal.

Discussion Points:

  • Social media allows us to build relationships with people we may never meet. What advantages does this give us when building ideas?

  • What is better, selling before you create or the opposite?

  • How important is a network of like-minded people?

Assignment Idea:

This can give students an opportunity to reach out to individuals they admire or want to emulate.

When sharing threads like this for the first time, I get students to create a list of people who would be great resources with their business or marketing ideas. This can be either a professional or personal brand.

Each student develops a set of open-ended questions that are specific to each individual and sends them out.

It’s important to make the questions specific to encourage a response back. Some of these people get flooded with DM’s and are less likely to answer if the questions are vague.

To follow up, have students reflect on the advice given to them and how it can be applied to their own ideas.

5. COVID and Professional Sports

We are seeing a huge difference between the 3 major North American sports currently running.

The NBA and NHL ran a bubble system that has kept positive COVID-19 cases at bay.

MLB is an entirely different story.

This gives us an opportunity to discuss the ethics of running businesses and keeping employees safe during a pandemic. We have some major case studies to look at first hand and compare them to businesses in our communities.

Discussion Points:

  • How restrictive should businesses be with their employees? (NBA bubble being the most restrictive, MLB being the least)

  • What can business owners in our communities take away from the professional sports league approaches?

  • How important are professional sports at this time for our entertainment? What about the players? Owners?

Assignment Idea:

This is a great segway into a conversation about our current situation. It also allows us to develop an assignment that will impact the rest of the time you spend together.

I plan to open many of my classes discussing the return to school. I want to know my student’s comfort levels, if they think we are being overly cautious or too relaxed, and what they believe should be done.

Our students are directly impacted by the decisions being made, and it’s important to make them feel like they have a voice.

Something I want to do is tailor many of my classes around suggestions from my students. If they feel like we can approach it in a different way while still following the guidelines of our school division, we can experiment and see how it goes.

We are operating our schools with uncertainty. Why not take this chance to be experiment with new things?


If you’re already teaching or are beginning in the next few weeks, I hope you have a great start to the year in whatever scenario you’re operating.

If you enjoy what you read and think others can benefit from it, please consider sharing it with others.

If you have any questions or feedback for me, just reply to this email.

Take care! Until next week,

Sean