Natalia Dittmer, Tum-a-Lum's social media manager
Leah Nash Natalia Dittmer, Tum-a-Lum's social media manager

In late 2015, Tum-A-Lum Lumber needed a change. Its website was lacking. It hadn’t been sharing regularly on its social media platforms. With its 110th anniversary coming up, the Vancouver, Wash.-based company scrapped many of its old methods of digital marketing to rebuild its strategy. It hired Natalia Dittmer as its social media manager, a new position, to spearhead much of the efforts. Dittmer manages Tum-A-Lum’s Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Houzz, and LinkedIn accounts. She is also in charge of its revamped website and monthly e-newsletter.

Now, the company is a social media powerhouse, regularly sharing fun, informative content with thousands of followers. Posting regularly on social media outlets helps to keep Tum-A-Lum top of mind to its current and potential customers, Dittmer says.

Tum-A-Lum’s push for a stronger presence online stemmed in part from realizing the gap between the company and its younger customers, who rely on the internet for information.

“[People] are going to research us, whether they want to do business with us or if they want to work for us,” Dittmer says. “We wanted to make sure we would have strong platforms with good information about our organization so that … they would understand the culture of our company.”

Communicating that culture begins with what is perhaps the greatest achievement of Tum-A-Lum’s efforts: incorporating a human element to nearly every post. While the company will occasionally plug special offers or products, it emphasizes its employees, customers, and community events.

“I’m not selling 2x4s. I’m selling our culture, our organization, and our people,” Dittmer says. “It’s our story and it tells a customer why they would want to buy from us.”

According to Dittmer, video content will be 80% of the world’s internet traffic by 2019. To prepare for that trend, Dittmer creates and shares videos celebrating employee work anniversaries. The clips feature photos of the employee and how many years that person has worked at Tum-A-Lum, along with interviews with colleagues or customers extolling them. Dittmer says it’s a great way for customers to get to know Tum-A-Lum employees. Plus, it makes the employee feel appreciated. (See Pam Webster's anniversary video below)

Tum-A-Lum also posts social media shout-outs to highlight its customers’ work. Dittmer created hashtags to tag the photos she shares with a geographic context. She also tags the featured company. Congratulating customers cements the partnership Tum-A-Lum works hard to cultivate with its contractors. It’s an added benefit to working with a local lumberyard instead of a big box store, Dittmer adds.

As further proof of partnership, Dittmer shared her social media savvy with her contractors in a workshop that reviewed the importance of social media and showed contractors how to incorporate it into their marketing strategies. Tum-A-Lum plans to hold the seminar every year, with the intention of adding additional class levels as contractors become more comfortable with social media management.

Until 2017, Tum-A-Lum had three locations, all in Oregon. This year, it acquired five new locations throughout Oregon and Washington: all four Marson & Marson Lumber locations and the single Browne’s Home Center. The company’s rapid growth has caused Dittmer to amend her social media strategy, as she is now responsible for maintaining a presence for three distinct brands. Dittmer is revamping the acquisitions’ social media accounts and giving their websites a facelift by using the same template as Tum-A-Lum’s site. She plans to execute digital marketing for Marson & Marson and Browne’s in the same way as Tum-A-Lum: focus on their people, culture, and company.

A Tum-a-Lum Instagram post featuring the Tum-a-Lum original #ColumbiaGorgeInspiration
Photo courtesy of Tum-a-Lum A Tum-a-Lum Instagram post featuring the Tum-a-Lum original #ColumbiaGorgeInspiration

“We aren’t going to change everything,” Dittmer says. “We are making sure we maintain the level and feel of customer service they’re used to.” To help her coordinate, Dittmer will have a point person at each location to provide photos and information about unique happenings at their yard.

The company’s Facebook and Instagram pages get the most engagement, so Dittmer focuses much of her efforts there, sharing two to four posts per week. Since Dittmer took over social media, Facebook followers have grown 22%, while Instagram followers have skyrocketed 743%. Though those are the top platforms, she won’t close other accounts that don’t perform as well. “There’s some risk as a company if you set up any of those platforms, then shut them down,” Dittmer says. “There are still some followers with an interest in [that account].” She advises that if you are just starting your social media campaigns to focus on one or two platforms before adding more.

All this activity is helping to make Tum-A-Lum a national name. Dittmer has been invited to speak about social media at industry events, and the company has seen growth not only in its immediate market, but also across the U.S.

“There are builders and lumberyards across the country that follow us,” Dittmer says. “They’re getting to see who we are as an organization. To be able to have that impact nationwide is one of the more impressive sides of what social media can offer.”