Want to transfer ownership of your Facebook fan page? Good luck.

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Facebook page frustration is on the rise!

Facebook page frustration is on the rise!

Like many people (based on quite a bit of searching), I am becoming increasingly frustrated with Facebook. For the past few days, what has really gotten to me is the way that Facebook pages work.

Here’s the rundown:

It is possible to create a “fan” page in Facebook that enables you to promote an individual or organizational brand – kind of like a Web site for a specific purpose within Facebook. To do this you either:

  • Add a page onto your individual account
  • Create a business account specifically for the purpose of managing pages and advertising

Sounds simple enough, but as many of us are finding out, nothing is really ever simple in Facebook if you scratch below the surface. A couple of the major issues – and these are just the major ones – that arise as you start to dive into pages are:

  • There is no way right now to transfer ownership of a page from one individual to another. So if Bob in marketing has set up the fan page for your organization, guess what? Bob continues to “own” that page even after he leaves your organization. Or if you want to sell your small company and transfer the fan page to a new owner…good luck!
  • Well, but of course the simple solution would be just to set up a business account instead of an individual account (it’s an option in the page set-up process). Not so fast, though. If you already have an indvidual account, Facebook’s policy is that you are not allowed to set up a business account. So, you have to find the one person in your organization who is not yet on Facebook and does not ever want to have an individual account to set up your business account. Then you have to deal with all the headaches of your business account stepchild not really working as well as the better-loved individual account in Facebook.

You have to wonder why more people aren’t screaming about this one. My theory is that they will be soon – Facebook for business is still a new enough concept that relatively few people have run into the need to transfer ownership of a page. And many people still aren’t even aware that the business account option even exists.

The natives are getting restless, though. In the Facebook Help discussion forums, there is a thread titled “Transferring a page to new ownership?” that was posted at the beginning of April. Since then, a total of 146 people have chimed in. As far as I can tell, all of them are looking for an answer and nobody has one.

Where are you Facebook staff?! (Is there a Facebook staff?)

I’m sure the issue will be addressed eventually. Maybe it has been already and some kind reader will chime in to tell me where the secret answer is hidden. (Please!) In the meantime, though, this seems to be yet another instance of Facebook simply not being in tune with the needs of users – and apparently not caring.

All in all, I agree with Douglas Karr’s view that Facebook is a lot like AOL 10.0 and that it will ultimately “fail unless it can correct one universal weakness.” Namely, the majority of time spent in Facebook – at least for business users – is “spent managing Facebook… not using it.”

One final note: If you have set up your business as an individual account, woe be unto you – Facebook could choose to shut you down at any moment given that this approach is a clear violation of their current policies.

Here’s hoping that Facebook sorts through these issues soon.

Jeff

P.S. – If you found this posting of interest, you will also want to visit the more recent postings by Tamar Weinberg (on Facebook) and Valeria Maltoni (covering LinkedIn and Twitter as well as Facebook):

P.S.S. – I am looking for examples of small business success stories on Facebook (particularly given the issue above!) If you have one or know of one, please visit the Facebook success stories post and comment.

And yet another P.S. – For anyone debating Facebook vs. LinkedIn, note that there is a clear process for transferring group ownership on LinkedIn.

Facebook can also be a great tool in a Learning 2.0 – social learning strategy.

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Comments

  1. I have been researching the use of Facebook for my organization and this situation is one of the biggest factors holding me back. I really thought I was not “getting it” when I did my homework. I thought, “How can business accounts be that inflexible? I must be missing something.” Unfortunately, I guess I’m not.

  2. Kathy – I thought the same thing. Maybe we’re both missing something, but so far no one (least of all anyone from Facebook!) has chimed in with a good answer on this. I am just assuming that eventually they will feel enough pressure to address the issue. – Jeff

  3. There is a way to transfer fan page to others.

    Edit Page > Bottom Right Section > Add Admin > Either by user or email

  4. Brian – Thanks for commenting. I’m aware of that option, but that is not the same as transferring ownership. The person who set up the page remains the owner regardless of who gets added as an Admin. Some organizations may find that acceptable, but I think most will not. – Jeff

  5. Jeff,
    This can lead to some pretty scary situations to be sure. And its really hard to understand how they just ignored this use case. I mean every other forum / discussion board has it.
    And its total catch 22. Don’t use a business account if you already have a facebook account, and if you have a Facebook account, then remain at your current employer *cue dramatic voice* FOR ALL ETERNITY.
    Please keep us updated if there is any progress about this.

    -Mihir

  6. You’d think this would be a bigger issue, but it’s of course one of those things you never realize until you need to do it and can’t! Maybe they are doing this on purpose to make paid-for business accounts a necessity?

    It’s fine in a perfect world when an employee leaves on good terms and just adds some other admins to the page and turns a blind eye to the page, but what about companies who fire the admin and that person goes postal and sullies the company’s brand?

  7. Mihir and Maggie – Thanks for the comments. (And bonus points for the *cue dramatic voice* Mihir.) I’ve been meaning to check back in to see if anything has changed, but the fact that people keep finding this page makes me think it hasn’t. You may be on to something, Maggie. To be honest, if they wanted to charge for business accounts, I suspect most businesses would be fine with it – assuming they would take care of issues like this and start acting like a business that cares about other businesses. It will be interesting to see how this issue evolves. – Jeff

  8. Have this very same problem.
    Found this forum pretty quickly on Google.
    (Also found that 147-member chain on Facebook help forum.)
    You would think …

  9. got same problem

  10. This is one reason why I don’t even want to start a fan page for my organization. I don’t want my work associated at all with my personal, especially not for forever.

    I have a group made (originally under a 2nd work profile until I learned that it was against policy) and cannot even use it to market to our membership anymore since all of the notifications and messages come to my personal profile inbox and my personal email address. This is unacceptable to me.

    It was great when I had the work profile since I could use my work email address. FB lets you add additional email addresses now, but you can’t apply them to your admin of a group. I have to post in the description – DO NOT CONTACT THE ADMIN THROUGH FB.

    Meanwhile for pages, you cannot even provide a company email address under Info, which defeats the purpose of marketing – we want people to email our company. As well, any notifications would come to my personal account.

    I have posted this under HELP a few times. I wish they would allow full business profiles that had the business name as its identity. That would make FB more useful instead of just a novelty.

  11. Susan – I was really hoping they might have this resolved by now. Guess not, based on your comment. Maybe Facebook will grow up in 2010? – Jeff

  12. yes, this is a frustration. If you set up a business page can you transfer the personal fan page to the business page?? I guess maybe I have to start from scratch again.
    thanks for the info :)

  13. By business page, do you mean business account? You do know you cannot create a business profile if you have a personal one, right? And nothing can be transferred, only admins added and removed except the creator.

  14. Hi, Jeff. Great post. Thought I’d carry this discussion into 2010! I was part of a PR News webinar today on using FB in PR efforts and mentioned that you cannot transfer ownership of a page once it’s created. Having learned this myself due to reasons previously described, I thought it was helpful to include when talking about fan pages and how to promote them.

    People were surprised. I’ve received follow-up questions asking how to address it and/or how to avoid the situation. How do you set up a page that isn’t tied to one person’s profile? There seem to be no good answers. The thread you mentioned in the Facebook help forum now has 319 posts. Still no answer from Facebook as far as I can tell.

  15. While I have a great deal of sympathy with the comments here, I also have a fear that corporate world will begin to dominate Facebook as it does all other areas of cyberspace. At least Facebook does its best to keep the corporate world in check and let us little ordinary people have a space of our own. If you are looking for that sort of functionality perhaps Ning is a better place for you.

    Regards

  16. While I have a great deal of sympathy with the comments here, I also have a fear that corporate world will begin to dominate Facebook as it does all other areas of cyberspace. At least Facebook does its best to keep the corporate world in check and let us little ordinary people have a space of our own. If you are looking for that sort of functionality perhaps Ning is a better place for you.

    Regards

  17. Steve – It’s a valid fear, and I sympathize to a certain extent. On the other hand, Facebook is clearly courting businesses with the whole fan page concept, and that being the case, ought to provide what would seem like a baseline feature for business usage of Pages. (I also like Ning, but of course it doesn’t offer the 350 million users that are so attractive to businesses on Facebook ;-) – Jeff

  18. Rhyaniwyn says:

    And wanting to transfer a Facebook fan page isn’t a use-case limited to businesses. It’s easy to imagine the scenario and danger of such a lack for a business’s fan page…but years ago I started a couple of Yahoo Groups (fan clubs mostly) and ended up transferring the groups to others. I ended up not having the time but they were active enough that killing them by deleting or ignoring them wasn’t right. So I made some admins and left the group.

    I was just thinking about starting a fan page for a local group that has technology meetups, because the club doesn’t have one. And it would be nice to see the events on Facebook. I figuring I could get it started, at least, and add events to the page when I get e-mails. But then I wondered, “What if I don’t have time to upkeep it? Or what if the person who heads the club itself decides he would rather run it? How could I transfer the page over to him?”

    So I googled it and found it evidently isn’t possible. So I probably won’t be making the page. It’s not about business taking over Facebook, it’s about letting the person own the page that needs to.

  19. I would never do this myself because it’s not legal per Facebook but what if a business or association created a dummy gmail account and then a dummy personality to set up a page. For example, the donut association wants to create a public page and not have to worry about ownership. They create a dummy email address (dorisdonut@gmail.com ) and then Doris Donut sets up the page. Only a desperate organization having no other alternative would stoop to such illegal acts but wouldn’t that work?

  20. “It’s not about business taking over Facebook, it’s about letting the person own the page that needs to.” – Good point, Rhyaniwyn – and well said. Thanks for that contribution.

    Deirdre – Yeah, there are definitely workarounds – and I am sure they are happening all over the place. Like you say though, you wouldn’t want to do it, and I wouldn’t want to either. Nor would I feel comfortable advising a client to do it. (But, of course, people can read comments on my blog and take from them what they will ;-) )

  21. Facebook needs to address two issues:
    1) Allow admins to post as themselves
    2) Allow admins to transfer ownership

    A celeb I managed the Page for is having her own PR people contact facebook to transfer ownership. Its been a month and no reply.

    I’ve sent reports to every contact I could find in Facebook’s Help Center last year. What a pain.

  22. That’s a screenshot of my comment above. I’ve placed several, and been in the conversation on Facebook with others that are desperate for a ‘fix’. What is worse is that if you are a business, and you want a fan page, you HAVE to use a profile. Sure, you can create a fan page without a profile, it just doesn’t work very well and Facebook deletes them. So, catch-22. Create a profile for your business, risk it being removed for violating TOS. Don’t create a profile for your business fan page, risk it being removed because Facebook is jacked up. Use a profile for your fan page, the employee leaves and take the fan page with them.

    Facebook has no incentive to fix their issues. Bottom line, consumers want businesses on Facebook. When a company isn’t on Facebook they are labeled as behind the times. When a company is on Facebook, they are prisoners to vague TOS.

  23. Lorraine, I hope your client’s PR people have enough pull to get something resolved. I just can’t believe the major corporations are not in an uproar. Keep us posted!!

  24. My client got a reply from Facebook –

    Facebook’s reply:
    There is currently no way to take away admin status from the creator of a Page. However, Page admins can add or remove other admins by following these steps:

    1)Click the “Edit Page” link below the Page’s photo.
    2)On the right hand side, click the “Add” link in the Admin section.
    3)Select the friend you would like to add as an admin.

    ….

  25. What a waste of a response. I hope none of the major corporations ever have to fire their facebook page creator. That could lead to sabbotage since that fired employee will own the page and not the corporation.

  26. Got the same problem and tried to contact FB several times to find a way out – no answer – I guess user-contact-emails don´t really go through to a “person” at facebook.

  27. Tomafer says:

    Here’s what you could attempt to do from an admin perspective. The IT dept/admin of the company could create an email account with the express purpose of handling situations like these. Sign up for facebook?, just use that email address. Same goes for any other website sign ups or social networking. Individuals would do this to have a “SPAM” account and then an personal email account that only actual email would go to… It’s sort of the same concept. For those of you already in this situation, you could “start all over” and redirect current fans to the new page from the old one. At least you wouldn’t be tie-ing the FB page to a personal account/ one particular person. However, the person who created the “dumb” account would have access, but that’s another matter

  28. But I don’t see how that separates work from personal. I created a facebook email account at work, but I am not going to use it to filter my facebook personal emails from my personal ones. And the filter wouldn’t able to tell the difference between personal FB emails and work ones. I don’t want my personal account or information to have anything whatsoever to do with my work. FB needs to let us keep our work email and account completely separate from our personal email and account. But they don’t seem to be willing. And they are losing money since I would probably place an ad if I didn’t have to affiliate it with my personal profile.

  29. Michelle Herpich says:

    I had always just assumed you could transfer an Fan Page. You don’t realize that you can’t until you REALLY, REALLY need to! Ugh. I sure wish we’d have known about business pages vs personal pages before we got so carried away. I was under that understanding that you had to have a business fan page tied to a personal page. This is going to be a huge problem, as jobs and situations turnover.

    I hope we get a solution soon!

  30. I wonder what happens when we deactivate our personal FB profile, will we still be admin of the Pages when we re-activate it?

    I saw this on FB’s Help Center:
    Q: I deactivated my account earlier and now all of the Pages I admin are gone.
    A: After reactivating your account, it may take a few hours before all of your pages are completely restored. If this content has not been restored within 24 hours of reactivation

    Does that mean even the Page will disappear if I’m the creator?

    Has anyone tried this?

  31. I’m dealing with this same nightmare in relation to placing Facebook ads. I used my personal account to create a business page for my place of employment. I also used this account to create some ads so we could test Facebook ads to see what kind of response we would get.

    Well, I also have a home-based business (outside my regular job) and I want to place ads for my own company. But Facebook only allows you to use one credit card. (You can put in more than one, but the ads will always charge to your “default” card.) They recommend that you set up separate ad campaigns, which I am doing, but they even tell you that you can’t use different payment methods for different campaigns. So now I can’t place ads for my own business until I can figure out where I can move our company’s ads. (And by move I mean completely recreate because they don’t let you move ANYTHING.)

    It is so frustrating and has made me wonder how any company uses Facebook without problems. I find it hard to believe that Starbucks page or Home Depot’s page is tied to one real person’s account…maybe the president of the company? But even those change and it would need to be transferred.

    • Yvette – Sorry to hear about your situation. I hadn’t even taken into account the fact that Facebook ties ads to pages/accounts. Another hidden issue. – Jeff

  32. oh, this is so discouraging. I have a situation with this right now. My husband and I have a small restaurant business and one of the college students who works for us created a page. He is going to be graduating and leaving and now I am really worried what is going to happen to our fan page. I’ve created a new one and we’ll ask members to find us at our new fan page…but seriously, this is the most unprofessional thing I have ever seen! Plus, by doing this we are losing all of the excellent publicity we have gotten from all of the existing comments on our wall. This is very frustrating.

    • Holly – Sorry to hear about your situation. It is indeed frustrating. I am betting this happens all the time between interns and consultants doing a lot of the initial Facebook set-up for companies. (Indeed, that is what alerted me to the problem in the first place.) It seems like it would be such a simple thing for Facebook to address… – Jeff

  33. Christian says:

    I have just now been made aware of the problem and I’m frustrated to say the least. I’m an intern at a small company and was asked to setup a facebook page for it. Now I discover that it’s tied to my personal account FOR ALL ETERNITY (sorry, couldn’t resist).

    Seriously though, this is a huge problem I hope they fix VERY soon. I’m not an intern forever you know.

  34. Just wanted to chime and say that I am equally frustrated these days with the same issues being discussed here. I’m a small business owner and started a fan page for my business…without realizing it was forever connected to my personal account. I just deactivated my personal account…and my business’ fan page has disappeared along with it! And there’s no way to get it back unless I activate my personal account again. And the thought of starting all over again after investing so much time and effort into building up my original one with content, and most importantly, the marketing it took to get those fans…! They have seriously got to address this problem and enable businesses to separate individuals from their businesses, if need be! It’s getting ridiculous that there’s not a whisper about a solution from Facebook!

  35. Jonathan Bowker says:

    Frustration isn’t the word. I have set up facebook pages for a number of clients and built strong communities. Now I have no way of handing them over at the end of my consultancy contract. This must be an oversight and could so easily be rectified. Come of FB pull your finger out and create a transfer solution.

  36. Yeah, seems like there should be a simple solution. Seems as though they just don’t care.

  37. Anyone subscribed to comments here will probably also want to check out Tamar Weinberg’s recent post “An Open Letter to Facebook”
    http://www.techipedia.com/2010/an-open-letter-to-facebook/

    Jeff

  38. Fran Harrington says:

    Ugh. Add me to the list of people upset with the lack of ability to transfer admin status. This is an issue for 4 pages I am an admin for now.

  39. DSforInc says:

    Just want to go on record as having the same problem and hoping for more information and for Facebook to give us a fix.

  40. I am facing a similar issue. I sold a website two days back and it has a facebook fanpage. I want to transfer ownership of this fanpage also to the new owner.

    Bottom line..it is not possible. Very much frustrating indeed!

  41. To add insult to injury, here is the message I received when I tried to deactivate my account in an attempt to lose ownership of a business page (in hopes that it would transfer to the other person designated as an administrator): “Unable to deactivate your account because you are the only developer of a Platform application. Please either delete the application or assign a new owner before deactivating your account.”

    FACEBOOK IS TELLING ME TO “ASSIGN A NEW OWNER,” YET THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE TO DO!!

  42. glenncz says:

    add me to the list, sadly facebook for business seems like a real PITA!

  43. UG! I just got laid off from my job and realized, sadly, that I cannot extirpate myself from it completely b/c I set up the bloody FB page. AND, my personal credit card is tied to the fan page b/c I paid for some advertising out of my own pocket. I can’t delete my card info b/c there’s not another credit card on the account. TERRIBLE! wtf, fb???

    • Very sorry to hear that, Danica – Sounds like Facebook is making a bad situation worse. I’d actually forgotten about the fact that a credit card could be associated with the page. Ugh. – Jeff

  44. Danica, I say take delete it all off of FB, so the ties back to you are no longer there. If you want to be nice, let them set up a new page with a different credit card and inform all of the members to join that page by a certain date, after which you will be deleting the page. It is a real shame, but you need to protect your personal self.

  45. I was able to create a new page with the exact same name as the old page, so I’m just going to delete the old page. This will be an inconvenience for my fans, but I have not found an alternative.

  46. Great news on this issue. Creators can now be deleted by page admins.
    http://www.allfacebook.com/2010/06/facebook-now-allowing-the-removal-of-original-page-admins/

  47. Well, it isn’t giving me that option on my page yet. And I can’t find anything in their help yet. Does anyone know anything about roll-out since it wasn’t in that article?

  48. Hi

    Thanks for the post, I guess we’ll have to wait a little longer until this is possible.

    My individual account is really personal as opposed to the company page. I don’t really want my customers to ‘overread’ what I say when I’m mucking about with my friends.

    yann

  49. Guys,
    I have removed myself as an admin from my Pages. My clients are pleased. Hope you guys are able to do so too. Good luck!

  50. I found it. You just have to have more than one admin to have the “remove” option show up.

    Yann – The issue with Pages was not that customers could read your personal profile, but that Pages were not transferrable from the owner. The issue of personal profile connection is with Groups. I made one originally before their were Pages, but cannot use it anymore since everything is connected to my personal profile. Now that The Page issue is better, I may disband the groups and ask that they join a new Page I can now build.

  51. Thanks, Susan – I was wondering if that was the issue, but hadn’t had time to check it.

    Lorraine – Glad it worked for you. And glad to see that this issue is finally resolved! – Jeff

  52. Yann (and other readers) – See http://jeffthomascobb.wpengine.com/2009/09/facebook-pages-ownership/ This issue was recently addressed (finally!) – Jeff

  53. Here it is 2012 and not much has changed. However I did notice that Facebook has added a “Claim this Page” option. I don’t know when.

    This issue becomes even more complicated when a business would like to use a multi-platform social networking app like “Roost”. These type apps tie FB, Twitter, LinkedIN, etc. together so a business can easily post (and schedule posts in advance), from one web site. There’s even an app for mobile use.

    The problem with FB Pages….since I ‘own’ the page (I set up for my friend’s business), in order to use Roost I must understandably grant them access to Facebook, Twitter, etc. However access is not exclusive to the Page I set-up for the business. It is to my Facebook account. Not good and I simply can’t do it. This is a hindrance in my efforts to help the employees post for the business with a user friendly interface to all media from one site. Bummer :(

  54. Just add the new person you want to transfer the page to, and remove yourself. Page is transferred.

  55. When I say “Add the person…” I mean, in the settings of the page you wish to transfer, add the person you want to transfer it to, as an additional administrator. Then remove yourself as administrator.

  56. Thank you all for the helpful information. I was wondering about how to transfer ownership of our FB page. @ Trish: try using IFTTT instead of Roost. Actions that involve FB business pages are separate from actions that involve personal accounts.

  57. Thanks Holly :)

  58. It seems they make changes to Facebook daily. I am having an issue with the business page being connected to my personal email account. Does anyone know how to separate it? I don’t want to be removed as one of the admins, but I do want to receive separate notifications for my personal and business pages. Has anyone done that?

  59. Here are instructions on
    How to Change an Account Owner of a Facebook Fan Page
    By Shawn Farner, eHow Contributor
    http://www.ehow.com/how_8219031_change-account-owner-facebook-fan.html

    Hope you find them useful. I am yet to follow through with the instructions.

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