The Data Pipeline: Social Media Analytics at Union Gas

tlittle    July 1, 2015


Organization Name: Union Gas Limited

Industry: Natural gas

Name of Contact: Andrea Stass, Manager of External Communications and Media Relations

Web References:Union Gas Website, TechTarget, Union Gas Facebook, Union Gas Twitter, Union Gas YouTube, Union Gas LinkedIn, TheVerge, Live Tweet Blog, Digital Surgeons, Canada’s Top 100 Employers, Comcast Business,



Union Gas Limited is a major Canadian natural gas storage, transmission and distribution company based in Ontario with 100 years of experience. In keeping with its long history of high-quality service Union Gas has kept pace with modern communications techniques by using social media to continually improve communications with stakeholders. But it is Union Gas’ understanding of the importance of social media analytics which helps provide guidance for business decisions based on data from its Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn pages.

Union Gas’ social media strategy involves:

  • increasing brand awareness – reinforcing its image and reputation by sharing information that aligns with its core values;
  • advocacy for the industry and product;
  • following key industry influencers to identify issues;
  • maintaining a platform to promote the company’s messages;
  • building a community of followers;
  • responding to emerging issues or emergencies
  • and supporting specific business initiatives including recruitment efforts.

This strategy is fully explained in the following Union Gas presentation.


Union Gas collects information on its number of followers, likes and shares as a proxy for engagement. Posts are made to its social media channels multiple times a day and each post is monitored and analyzed to see if it effectively reached customers and other stakeholders including regulators, government representatives, builders and contractors among others. This 24/7 monitoring enables Union Gas to identify any issues early as well.

Andrea Stass, Manager of External Communications and Media Relations explains further,

“We look at how a post could be rephrased to be more effective. Are there any current trends to link with? Any new hashtags? We continue to adapt the way we speak on social media. We look at successful posts to decipher why they were successful.”

Every quarter Union Gas does an overall analysis of its online presence to examine engagement within each platform. But as studies show ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ don’t necessarily mean people have read a post, Union Gas is currently looking to purchase a more powerful analytics tool to be able to collect the number of click throughs that lead to actions (such as completing online forms or filling out surveys) to get a deeper understanding of its social media presence and better manage its social media campaigns.

Campaign analysis is another way Union Gas examines social media data. This information helps decipher the success rate of a marketing campaign by looking at increase in sales – keeping in mind social media is only part of the mix which includes print and broadcast avenues as well. Andrea explains that success of social media in supporting safety or advocacy campaigns can also be measured.

“Success of a safety awareness campaign such as “Dig Safe” might be seeing if we receive more calls before construction crews begin digging sites. An advocacy initiative would be deemed successful if a particular government policy is advanced after we have publicly supported it via social media. It is really another tool for us to help progress a variety of business initiatives.”

Union Gas is always looking at new trends in the industry to see what new platforms exist and whether they are useful. For example Union Gas has deemed that photo-sharing platforms such as Instagram and Flickr do not resonate with its audiences according to Andrea.

Union Gas’ use of social media analytics is explained in the following audio clip.


In 2014 Union Gas introduced dark posts for advertising and paperless billing promotion as well as advocacy on Facebook. Live tweeting was also introduced.

Analytics proved this was very successful as Union Gas saw approximately 68% more in their viewers engagement in the conversation. They had 5,000 more impressions for each event and another 30,000 through retweets. With 90% more retweets than on an average day, it showed live tweets sparked attention.

Knowing people retain 70% of information shared via a story and only 5-10% of information conveyed through statistics (as shown in above slide presentation), Union Gas has continued to broaden its horizons by incorporating YouTube to tell its stories.

The Union Gas distribution business serves about 1.4 million residential, commercial and industrial customers in more than 400 communities across northern, southwestern and eastern Ontario. No doubt its use of social media has contributed to this Spectra Energy Company being named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for 2015.

Lesson for Others:

Andrea Stass sums it up best,

“Social Media analytics help us ensure that the efforts we undertake have an impact and that we put effort in channels that have the greatest return for our business initiatives.”

Social media analytics are essential to ensuring the correct conclusions are drawn from the data collected to help make successful business decisions.

Submitted By: Toby Little, SMBP student

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If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.