Jeremy Knauff

What Do You Do when the Facebook Page Username You Want is Already Taken

December 13th, 2012 by Jeremy Knauff

Facebook

I recently made a stupid, amateur mistake. We all do occasionally; this time, it was my turn.

About a year ago, I purchased a domain for a project I planned to launch. This November, I finally designed the website, wrote and published numerous articles, and even set up a Twitter profile and Facebook page. The one thing I didn’t do was create a custom username for the new Facebook page because you need 25 fans before you can create a custom username, and I wanted to wait until I had a decent amount of content before seeking fans.

The first lesson learned from this little fiasco; anytime you buy a domain, make sure to also set up all social media profiles for it and start seeking followers/fans immediately. In fact, before even selecting a domain, you should make sure the social media profiles are available. It will have a dramatic impact on your branding.

So I started off with the default Facebook page username (e.g. www.facebook.com/pages/Your-Page/259493130844671) until I reached the necessary number of fans, but when I tried to create a custom username (e.g. www.facebook.com/YourPage) I learned that someone had beat me to it. (It was available when I first purchased the domain.) Since you can only change the username once, I took my time in deciding how I wanted to handle it. I considered all sorts of variants of the name, but couldn’t come up with anything close enough to the domain I was using it for. Eventually, I stumbled upon Facebook’s form for handling Trademark violations, filled out all the necessary info, and eagerly waited for the situation to be resolved in my favor. It wasn’t. In fact, I received nothing more than a form letter stating that usernames were assigned on a first-come first-serve basis. I guess Trademark only applies to large, multinational corporations. To hell with the little guy.

All hope was not lost though. There was absolutely no content or likes on the page I wanted, so the owner clearly wasn’t using it; however, Facebook claims that usernames are not transferable. Challenge accepted! I visited the page and posted a message asking the owner if he would be interested in selling the page, and received a reply the following morning—”sure.” Now I was back on track! He accepted my first offer, so I sent a payment via PayPal, and within minutes, he granted me admin rights and removed his own. I was now the sole owner of the Facebook page with the username I wanted.

I approached the next step with a bit of apprehension, as I had to merge the two pages. Remember, my page had hundreds of likes and posts, but the page I just bough had the username I wanted. This was my first time doing this, and a single mistake could result in losing all of my content and likes. I must have read over the instructions a dozen times each step of the way. In the end, it was probably just paranoia on my part, because it was pretty simple and there were plenty of prompts along the way to make sure you do everything right. Per Facebook’s instructions:

I have two Facebook Pages for the same thing. Can I merge them?
Yes, you can merge duplicate Pages so long as they represent the same thing. Please note you can only merge the Page with fewer likes into the one with more likes. To do so:

  1. Go to the Page with more likes. This will be the one you’ll keep.
  2. From the top of your Page, click Edit Page 
  3. Select Update Info
  4. From the left sidebar, select Resources.
  5. Click the Merge duplicate Pages link. This link will only appear if you manage two Pages with similar names.
  6. A dialogue will show Pages you manage that qualify to be merged. Select the Page(s) you wish to merge. If you’re merging Pages with a location, they must have the same address information.

Merging Pages combines all your likes and check-ins, but all other content from the Page with fewer likes, such as wall posts, photos and its username, will be permanently deleted. Content on the Page with more likes will remain unchanged, except for the addition of likes and check-ins added from the Page with fewer likes.

The Page with fewer likes will be removed from Facebook and you will not be able to unmerge it.

There was a certain amount of nervousness in my stomach when I clicked the final “merge” button, especially since it mentioned that the username would be permanently deleted, but once the page finished loading, everything worked out exactly the way I wanted it to. All of my content and likes remained, and I had the username I wanted.

This won’t work in every situation. Some people will hold on to a page they aren’t actively using no matter what, while others may have a brand and a strong following on their Facebook page, so it wouldn’t make sense for them to give it up for any price that you’d be willing to pay. In any case, it never hurts to ask. You just may be surprised at the outcome.

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