Organization Name: Christie
Industry: AudioVisual, Manufacturing
Contact: Kathryn Cress, Vice President, Global & Corporate Marketing
Web References: Christie,B2B Social Media, Social Media for Business Performance; Social Marketing
“Share the Experience” is Christie’s tag line, used extensively to promote the primary benefit of Christie’s products and solutions. The company provides visual display solutions, including content and services, that allow people to view visuals in a group environment. Christie’s visual solutions are used for entertainment, decision-making, collaboration, information sharing and education across a broad range of markets.
Watch this video to learn more about how Christie helps its customers to “Share the Experience:
In business since 1929, Christie’s worldwide headquarters are located in Cypress, California, just an hour’s drive from Hollywood. The company initially focused on providing one component – power supplies – for film projectors. Recognizing that the future lay in developing complete solutions, the company expanded to design, develop and manufacture film projectors. Christie’s business grew, ultimately capturing 33% of the global market for film projectors, and was recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with two Oscars for Scientific and Technical Achievement.
In the mid 1990’s, the film and visual display industries were transitioning from analog to digital formats. Capitalizing on the growth in digital technologies, Christie initiated the transformation of its film (analog) business into a digital one. In 1999, it acquired Canadian firm Electrohome, who had been developing digital projectors. The marriage of the two companies resulted in a new entity – Christie Digital Systems – which today provides visual solutions for entertainment, education, government, business and industry.
A deliberate approach to sharing
Since the company’s inception 86 years ago, Christie has paced itself to grow, evolve and transform at a pace in keeping with its customers’ needs and technology changes. The same can be said for the company’s approach to social media.
According to Kathryn Cress, Vice President, Global and Corporate Marketing, “When we first engaged with social media, we were very calculated and deliberate in our approach. We’re a company that prides itself on providing the best visual experiences, so it was logical for us to start with YouTube. This medium allowed us to present videos of our customers using our technology for shared experiences. It was low-risk for us. We were already producing videos of customer installations. YouTube provided the forum for us to share these visual stories with our customers, employees and the media.”
Following the introduction of the company’s YouTube presence, the marketing department established its social media presence on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. The company’s approach to social media continued to be very intentional.
“Our industry (professional a/v and digital cinema) was slow in adopting social media as a means of communicating and sharing with others. Social media was considered by many as more of a “fad” that wasn’t going to materialize as a viable tool in the B2B world. At Christie, we had to balance these perspectives with the reality that many of our customers were engaging and that we needed to be where our customers are. We chose a small sub-set of all the available social media platforms, and built our presence around them. ”
While Christie’s marketing team focused on marketing and then measuring the results of its social activities, other departments within the company were engaging for different purposes. Today, Christie’s use of social media spans multiple departments across the organization, including:
Human Resources: Christie’s talent development and recruitment team uses LinkedIn as its primary recruitment tool. It supplements job postings with video to engage potential employees and provide a visual sense of employment at Christie.
Research & Innovation: Christie’s Research and Innovation team uses internal social media to engage and involve employees in idea generation and creative thinking in their day-to-day work. Read this blog post about Christie’s employee engagement approach.
Supply Chain Management: As noted in the blog post “Social Media enhances the complex beautiful dance of Christie’s global supply chain”, Christie and its suppliers use a variety of social media tools such as ooVoo, Trello and GoogleDocs to facilitate real-time collaboration.
Sales: Christie’s global sales force uses LinkedIn to connect with its customers. Individual LinkedIn profiles provide the sales team with real-time information on customer contacts, potential business opportunities and access to groups with common business interests.
The Future of Social Media for Christie
As with many organizations, Christie is marketing to a diverse demographic. Some of the company’s largest customers focus more on live interaction, through sales calls, trade shows and live product demonstrations. Many others, such as those in the Gen X, Gen Y and Millenial demographic, have grown up in their business careers with social media as an integral part of their professional and personal lives. As these customers move through their careers, they will continue to rely on social media to serve them information that they need to make business decisions.
Beyond marketing, Christie sees opportunity to use social media tools across the enterprise. “Once an organization chooses and implements an enterprise-wide tool, the tool becomes part of the process of conducting business and it becomes an entrenched element of the corporate infrastructure. As a result, it can be difficult to displace that tool in favor of another. With our social media platforms, we’re invested in several key platforms. We’ll use the platforms that continue to be successful for us on the marketing and sales front. We also envision many opportunities to add social media tools to the suite of enterprise-wide tools that we currently use to manage our business”, commented Ms Cress.
Some future applications of social media for Christie include:
Corporate-wide decision making. With tools in place to monitor and measure social media effectiveness of marketing activities, the company will look to social media to help facilitate decision-making in other departments. Whether it is to assess corporate health of potential partners and suppliers, identify acquisition opportunities, help the company’s customer care representatives make decisions when assisting customers, or to use geo-tagging tools to monitor their supply chain, social media may help Christie employees make immediate decisions that impact its business and its customers.
Bridging the language gap. Christie has customers, employees, industry partners and suppliers in multiple locations worldwide. Not everyone speaks the same language. The company envisions a social tool that would better assist with immediate language translations. In turn, this tool would assist with an enhanced understanding, sharing and communication of its business needs to its key stakeholders.
Kathryn Cress, Vice President of Global and Corporate Marketing at Christie, discusses additional future applications of social media at the company in this video:
Lessons for Others
Take a measured approach for today, and tomorrow. Christie has been strategic and thoughtful in its approach to embracing social media for marketing, recruitment, supply chain management, sales interactions and collaboration. many organizations padopt the newest, social media tools as a means of attracting customers, Christie has been true to its roots and has been selective and deliberate in its social activities.
Leverage what you’re good at. Christie leveraged its core competence as a provider of visual experiences to create its YouTube presence. It already had videos of customer installations, which made the creation of its YouTube channel a logical one.
Know your target audience. Christie recognized that it must appeal to it stakeholders regardless of their demographic profile. It maintains a balanced approach between live interactions via trade shows, product demos and private, captive audience events and online interactions. This ensures that the company is able to meet its customers where they are…whether in person or online.
Submitted by: Kcress, University of Waterloo
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