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Social media provides more ways to shop, prompting warnings for consumers

The ability to feature and sell products is helpful to small businesses, but consumers may regret impulse buys
Posted at 5:00 AM, Aug 24, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — Online shopping is more convenient than ever. With one touch of a button you can buy something that comes across your phone or computer screen. Now, social media platforms like TikTok are making e-commerce a bigger priority and both small business owners and consumer experts say we need to be careful who we spend money with.

Recent surveys show, last year the average TikTok user spent almost an hour on the platform every day, looking at short videos for just a few seconds before scrolling to the next.

TikTok now allows sales to be made through these videos. It’s been a huge boost to small businesses, but consumer protection experts warn an impulse buy might be something you’ll regret if the product was misrepresented or doesn’t show up at all.

”So this is one of our product pages that we have and someone can click on this video right here and what they can do is actually go onto our profile page and click right here to actually buy now with a one touch click,” said Sebastian Wolfgram as he showed News5 how he utilizes social media platforms for his business ShowCar Auto Spa.

With TikTok and instagram helping to get eyes on his products and auto detailing business, Wolfgram says business is booming.

”I started this two years ago out of my townhouse garage which is absolutely crazy to where it is today. We’re in a 6,000 square foot facility and that all comes from social media,” said Wolfgram.

With 500,000 followers across his social media platforms, Wolfgram says marketing his services and products on social media is an important part of his business.

”We’ve reached over 2 billion views to date,” said Wolfgram. “That allowed me to start products and training other detailers.”

It’s convenient, but also hard work.

”We have to make sure that we are able to show the quality of our work in every single video that we produce for TikTok and Instagram. So we have to plan these out. They also take hours and hours of voice overs and editing,” said Wolfgram.

Wolfgram says not only sells products on these platforms, but buys from other people too. He says it’s important to understand the risks involved.

”There’s some products that are completely misrepresented whenever you are buying on TikTok and Instagram which is a big, big issue. Especially when people are just scrolling and they see a product they might like and they buy it right away and they are disappointed when they get it, or they don’t ever get it. They might buy it and it never shows up, which is what I see is so common,” said Wolfgram.

”I think ecommerce in social media is not going away. I think it’s going to continue to increase,” said BBB of Southern Colorado CEO Jonathan Liebert.

He says when we log into social media now. We must be prepared to make decisions on what to spend money on.

”While there’s going to be a lot of great tools and opportunity of small businesses to jump on board and take advantage of that, scammers and other people are going to take advantage of consumers, so it does go both ways,” said Leibert.

Fraudsters choose to lurk on social media platforms because there’s so much content and it can make dangers tough to spot. It also could take a while before posts are removed. Liebert says there’s a long list of things to be aware of.

”If you just go to like the TikTok site and look at their scam page. They are absolutely against scams, they want to prevent a lot of this stuff from happening,” said Liebert. “The list of scams they are trying to educate people about and protect you from on TikTok alone… you are going to be scrolling for a bit.”

Here are those resources on TikTok

Here are ways to report suspected scams or policy violations.
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