A Young Moderator for an Emerging Conversation: Robotiq’s Amanda Lee
Posted on Dec 06, 2016 7:00 AM. 6 min read time
As the overseer of all things social media at Robotiq, Amanda Lee listens in on the chatter and gets out the message. She makes sure the world’s robotics users have a place they can get out all their queries and, in turn, have answers that will keep them coming back to Robotiq’s site.
Robotiq was founded after lab-mates Samuel Bouchard, Vincent Duchaîne and Jean-Philippe Jobin decided to commercialize some of the mechatronic work they and their professor Clément Gosselin had created at Laval University in Quebec City. That was in 2008.
Today, Robotiq counts more than 30 full-time staff, and our grippers and sensors operate in 40 different countries. We felt it was time to start telling the stories of our team members.
Robotiq’s Amanda Lee is getting people talking.
Around the world, enthusiasts and owners of robotic arms are trading information and troubleshooting on a Robotiq platform called DoF (Degrees of Freedom). Amanda is on there, too, moderating, making introductions and highlighting what’s trending.
Meanwhile, on the company’s social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, comments on robotics issues, in general, and Robotiq products, in particular, are flying around. Amanda is also there, addressing (and sometimes tracking down a specialist to address) questions that come up about Robotiq products.
On top of that, each week a team of Robotiq writers, Amanda among them, puts out a treasure trove of fresh blogs. The growing archive of articles come up as top search results by those looking on the Internet for robotic vision systems, risk assessment in automation or scores of other subjects. Amanda’s prolific posting and sharing of the pieces help to fuel that high ranking.
Robotiq has been positioning itself as a knowledge leader in the robotics industry, creating enormous amounts of content and, in turn, attracting large numbers to its website. Amanda coordinates blogs and eBooks, and has been involved in a content machine with a large interactive component that makes it easier for people to find useful information on robotics.
At the company since April, the 23 year-old has been immersing herself in on-line marketing and content creation, with the result being an increase in sales traffic at Robotiq and a friendly presence at the other end of all those questions about robots.
Meet Amanda Lee: Robotiq’s Inbound Marketing Coordinator
Bilingual and bicultural, Amanda was born in Toronto to a Québécoise mother and a Guyanese father, and then moved to Quebec City at a year old. A happy child who danced a lot, she was schooled in French and became comfortable in Quebec culture. An only child, she also was very comfortable in English and remained close to her extended clan in Toronto.
The conversations taking place through her work are a natural extension to the numerous international encounters she has made throughout her life. She traveled often with her family and says she has “the travel bug.” She longs to take even more trips, including one to the Guyana homeland of her family, which she has yet to visit.
She regularly tastes some of that Guyanese culture in the food prepared by her father and grandmother. “One tradition we have is that everyone in the family eats garlic pork on Christmas morning,” she says of her favorite yuletide tradition that seems to be the furthest thing from the scent of pine trees and mincemeat pies. “You wake up and the house smells of garlic. It’s insanely smelly, but it’s so good! We all call each other: ‘Did you make your garlic pork?’”
She is an avowed "foodie" and says her love for cooking was born in the kitchens of her mother and grandmother. She remembers being very small and learning recipes from them, with Christmas cooking standing out as their special shared tradition.
Her father has also passed down a taste for marketing, having spent many years organizing conference events and helping businesses through digital channel marketing. Like his daughter, he also dealt with people from all over the globe. Amanda has fond recollections of summer jobs greeting conference attendees, who received their lanyards and nametags from a very sociable teenager.
Her father passed on to her the concept of doing what you love. “He still loves and is passionate about what he does. I love what I do too. I have a smile when I go to work,” she says. “Working consumes a lot of your time, so it has to become something you love.”
The birth of online marketing coincided with her nascent interest in the subject. She studied marketing in Cegep (Quebec’s junior college system), but it was at university where she saw how much the Internet could be used to reach out to consumers. Her degree was in business but her interests began to focus more on the power of social media.
Her university studies also took an international turn. She spent five months in Singapore, attending management classes. She enjoyed having courses that touched on international commerce and even managing museums, and being on a campus in another country. However, there were some shortcomings to being the foreign student. Some of the more competitive students looked down on ex-pats as being there simply for a fun semester, making it difficult when it came time for group assignments.
But Amanda was excited by the convergence of so many cultures in one university, with Australians, Indians, Chinese and Indonesians in her classes. “I love meeting people from around the world,” she said, adding that this was very familiar to someone who comes from a multicultural family that loves traveling.
Back in Quebec, she continued her studies and worked part time at a production company, where she filmed and edited videos for events, often profiling speakers. Those skills, along with the social media and marketing experience she picked up, helped her land a parental leave replacement position at Robotiq this past spring. That position recently turned into a permanent job.
While she has been involved in some video production at Robotiq, her time at Robotiq has been more defined by social media work as well as overseeing the content through the website and blog.
Amanda recognizes the ubiquity of the Internet and how it’s become a vehicle for a variety of activities. “People use social media for everything today. They use it for their business and their social life; they use it to share their views about politics and pictures of their dog.”
Amanda has been harnessing that power. She collects comments, orients a message depending on the customer, builds an archive of information, curates it with a message that corresponds to the cycle of products emerging, and responds quickly through those same channels.
“When people post a comment, they don’t want you to respond three days after,” she says, referring to the many Robotiq customers and potential customers she speaks with all day.
As its community manager, Amanda is most proud of the DoF initiative, which brings together an online community of automation professionals. It had its official launch this fall and has been attracting those who are working on robotics projects and need help for a particular application. It draws on the expertise of other DoF members and people from Robotiq’s R&D department.
That initiative, combined with the company’s regular blogging, has helped Robotiq stand out in an increasingly crowded robotics sector. “We always try to be the thought leader in our industry. And I think we’re doing a great job at it. A lot of people are saying, ‘Your blog is so cool. I always follow it. You’re putting out great content.’ Since we launched the DoF community, people are going there to ask questions and troubleshoot. When you have problems with an application, you want opinions, and you want other people to share pictures and videos. It has definitely forged conversations,” she says.
That kind of work can sometimes be tricky on a platform where people can sniff out the hard sell. Amanda knows she can’t get too “salesy” about the Robotiq brand when talking to these members, some of whom are working with competing technology. “The real reason why we’re doing this is to inform and educate them.” The company is confident that offering all this content will ultimately pay off with more people rubbing up against Robotiq. “You bring them to your website and have the information there for them.”
As one of the non-engineering types in a company full of engineers, Amanda has found herself occasionally recruited as an unbiased subject for testing. “A guinea pig,” says Amanda, who has been approached a few times by an R&D member asking her to work with a robotic arm and test out a new configuration. “I have no clue what I’m about to do. They’ll give me the teach pendant (an iPad-like device to work with the robotic arm) and see how I’m interacting. Sometimes it’s just for 10 to 15 minutes.”
She says she loves interacting with the robots, which adds a more concrete dimension to a job that deals with a lot of words. She especially loves the fact that R&D, on most Friday afternoons, offers a demo for all the departments, to show everyone what it’s been working on.
“Sometimes you’re so focused in your department, so it’s good to see what others are working on. It brings us closer together.”
She appreciates the departments getting together to talk about the technology, just as she appreciates users from all over the world getting together to talk about what they’re also working on. The communications continue inside and outside the Robotiq walls, as the Inbound Marketing Coordinator takes it all in.