This post originally appeared on August 20, 2011. Yet, it is still relevant and a good reminder.

Clearly, there is an ongoing surge in social networking use within the insurance space. That is the good news. The bad news is that many are using (or more accurately abusing) social networking platforms to amplify their sales message. As I see it, this is the biggest mistake being made, especially by those new to the social networking.

I know that many of you reading this blog fully understand this point. Yet, I think it significant enough to the ultimate success of anyone expecting to benefit from social networking that there is reason to revisit the issue.

Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.

There is a fundamental difference between the old push or interruption type of marketing and social marketing. When using social networking it is expected that before you try and sell someone you first build a relationship with them, Or said another way, consumers in the social space expect to have a relationship with you and a certain level of trust before they buy. Be present so that when they are ready to buy they can find you. Just as you the first words out of your mouth at a chamber mixer would not be, “I sell insurance – please buy from me”. The same holds true on Facebook, Twitter or any other social app for that matter.

Spend time building and nurturing your relationships with friends, fans/likes and followers. You do that by being a participant in the conversation. Comment on others posts, provide subject matter expertise, and be transparent and honest. Remember, there is no quick fix here. Building relationships (online or offline) takes time and effort. Be a good social community citizen and be patient – success will find you.

What other mistakes do you see being made?