It’s okay to admit it. Some consider blooming late to be a good thing. Malcolm Gladwell for one. In an essay called “Late Bloomers” in The New Yorker, Gladwell shares a perspective on late bloomers, suggesting that late bloomers aren’t late starters, but instead are people that take their time to explore and experiment their way towards creativity, genius and success.

I admit I am a late bloomer when it comes to social media for my business (and a late bloomer in so many other areas, to be truthful). And no matter what the experts and the internet says, the reality is that many organizations in Edmonton have been slow to adopt social media into their marketing and business efforts.

When I look at many of the companies I come into contact with in the city, most use social media on a very limited basis, if at all. Most cite uncertainty of value, risk and resources as the reasons they aren’t tweeting, friending or blogging. They are watching, but aren’t participating. For those companies that are using social media, many may not be using it to its full value.

While Edmonton has never really been known as an early adopter or trend setter when it comes to things like this (and this is no slight to our fair city, it is just more about geography and the make-up of our economy), I think the reality is that a lot of companies are still unsure if social media can really deliver business value. As a communications consultant, I hear this uncertainty from clients and others all the time.

So if you are curious, or know you should get started sometime soon, how do you get out of the gate? How do you wade into social media waters without getting drenched by waves that suck your resources and fragile enthusiasm away?

Take a page from Malcolm Gladwell: “The final lesson of the late bloomer: his or her success is highly contingent on the efforts of others.”

What does this mean for you, the social media late bloomer? Talk with someone who makes social media their business. Find someone that will comfortably hold your hand as you wade in.

Who can help? It might be one of your employees that spends a great deal of their personal time in social media. They could be in a position to tell you where your business might get started. They might live in your communications, marketing, HR or the IT department and be looking for an opportunity to branch out and do more.

You can also work with a hired consultant or agency that specializes in social media strategy. There are lots of people hanging out a shingle on social media, and there are lots of PR and marketing types that also offer social media services or advice. But as with anything, there are many bad ones sitting in amongst the good.

My social media angel, who delicately helped me find my way, was Jay Palter of Palter Social Media Strategies. Jay was great to work with because he listened first – about my reservations and my resources – rather than just giving me the standard story about his tickle trunk of goods. I am sure there are many other good social media angels out there, just like Jay. Ask around and talk to colleagues in other companies that are using social media more than you.

Now, I have sat in on a handful of presentations from large agencies pitching my clients for their social media business. All I will say is this. If a social media consultant tells you that the sky is falling because you aren’t using social media, run the other way. Your company is not under threat because you aren’t using social media. Yes, there are likely some opportunities you may be missing out on, but the reality is that there is always something more you could be doing when it comes to your business. Don’t be made to feel like a fool simply because you are a late bloomer. Anyone who makes you feel that way does not deserve your trust or your business.

The bottom line is this. Being a late bloomer is a natural and good thing. You could still find social media genius. It’s never too late. Simply have the conversation with “a patron” about how social media might help your business build the conversations you want to be having with customers and community.