In a post at the Daily Fix blog, Stephanie Miller says you don't have to choose between the social and email channels. "No need to take sides, my friends," she says. "Email and social marketing work best together, and not because I or other pundits say so, but because that is how our customers and subscribers use them: together."

The reason, explains Miller, is that email serves as the primary driver for a critical social-media feature—alerts. "[I]t's still the best way to connect a social network with the rest of its members' lives," she notes.

However, Miller says, email/social mixology comes with some potential weak points:

Social networking activity can substantially increase the number of emails in a subscriber's inbox. "Be sure not to overwhelm," advises Miller. "Give subscribers a choice about the number and cadence of all email marketing—including alerts."

The automatic download of an address book into an invitation widget invites disaster. It's a good way to get blacklisted by ISPs when your site grabs a subscriber's address book, Miller notes, and "it's a lousy first impression of your service for a new member." Just don't do it, she advises: "I know it SOUNDS like a great way to build a community fast, but it's at best a risky business move and at worst fatal for all email marketing you want to do in future."

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