Many pundits, including me, have been cranking out articles, blog posts and comments regarding the carefully studied entry into the social media milieu by the insurance industry. Some of the latest developments, however, have demonstrated the wisdom of treading lightly in what might be the most enticing marketing minefield we have ever seen.

The recent launch of Google Buzz represented Google’s long-awaited foray into the social media arena, and it had people buzzing all right—buzzing like a swarm of angry killer bees. It seems users weren’t happy when Google automatically “selected” their list of friends based on their Gmail and chat activity. Not asking permission to share users’ Buzz contacts with others also struck a nerve. The users saw this as a breach of their privacy, and a high-handed misuse of their private information.

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