Why It Is Not Safe To Buy Or Sell Facebook Pages
There are many causes for this. Perhaps you haven't seen a decent return on your Facebook investment and want to recover some of your losses before moving on to other types of marketing. Perhaps your company failed or went bankrupt, and all you're doing now is selling an asset that is no longer useful to you except as a means of liquidation. Maybe, like a few clever businesses, you simply utilize wacky viral methods to quickly build up fan sites, then sell them to continue the process. It may be a nice profit if you're successful.
What is the value of a fan page?
Typically, the majority of fan sites for sale are on the low end of the scale. They'll only have a few hundred or thousand followers, the most of whom aren't very active. These will retail for $50 to$500, maybe a little more. The greater the price, the more followers a page has and the more engaged they are. Viral Accounts claims to have sold high-end fan pages for up to $20,000 on rare occasions.
Why would you invest so much on a Facebook fan page?
There are a variety of causes behind this. However, plain laziness is the main motivator. You don't have the time, energy, expertise, or focus to establish a fan page from the ground up and develop it one follower at a time. The first thousand followers are the hardest to get, since it requires a lot of care and attention before your page gains any real traction. Sure, you may hire an agency to create and manage your page for you, but it will take much longer and cost much more than just purchasing an account with a large following.
Surprisingly, arbitrage is one of the reasons NOT to purchase a fan page. You can't purchase a fan page and then resell it for a profit once you've grown it. The reason for this is Facebook's limitations on ownership transfers. I'll get to it later.
Now, I'm not here to suggest that you purchase or sell a fan page account. Being a seller is preferable than being a buyer if you're going to be on either side of the transaction.
The Dangers of Buying and Selling Facebook Fan Pages
Purchasing or selling a Facebook fan page comes with a number of dangers.
From the seller's viewpoint, you're unlikely to get into any real difficulty. Selling an account entail placing your account on the market, receiving money, and transferring ownership. Sites like the one described above act as a middleman, establishing and maintaining a trusting – to a degree – community while also penalizing individuals who attempt to defraud their customers or vendors. They should, in theory, ensure that your ownership is legally transferred and that you are fairly compensated.
The dangers are clear. First and foremost, you run the danger of having your brand name associated with the page. If a group of individuals who used to follow Your Brand suddenly start following Spam Brand, they'll wonder where you went and why you're now known as Spam Brand. Your Brand may continue to exist, but people may begin to believe that you and the new owner are connected in some manner.
Regardless matter how trustworthy the intermediary site claims to be, you run the chance of being defrauded. I haven't utilized any of these services, so I can't say how smooth the process is, but I'm sure there are individuals out there who would gladly take authentication credentials and hijack websites for their own malicious purposes.
There's also the danger of your personal profile being exposed. When you create a fan page, you must also create a personal profile for it. The link between the two accounts is still there if that profile is your own personal profile, not one created as a false account to host the fan page. This implies that the new owner may be able to see who you are throughout the transfer, with all of the consequences it involves.
You may now transfer ownership of the page from yourself to a fake account to protect yourself from that possibility. This is the procedure you must follow:
Create a fake Facebook personal profile that seems to be genuine and contains data.
On your Facebook fan page, make the fake account an admin.
Remove your actual account from the admin role by logging into the fake account.
This will make the dummy account the only owner of the account, which you may use reasonably risk-free. However, from Facebook's perspective, there is still a little amount of personal information connected. They can see what IP addresses were used to visit the website, and unless you use a proxy, they will be able to tell whether you and the dummy share the same IP address. If the page is penalized for any reason, it may have a negative impact on your own profile as well.
Now, as a buyer, you're taking on a lot more risk. On the one hand, there is the danger of being defrauded only for financial gain. “Hey, I'd want to purchase this account,” you say. “Sure, it's $1,000,” the website adds. You send them a grand through PayPal, Bitcoin, or whatever form of payment you choose, and then you don't hear from them again. They don't reply to your mails, don't offer you a page, and won't let you enter into their system. Congratulations! You've been kidnapped.
I'm sure there are lots of legitimate buy and sell hubs out there, but I'm also certain that some of them are willing to defraud their customers and vanish with their cash. It's not like you have much of a choice. There isn't much of a legal argument there. Trying to take the company to court will just get you in trouble if you can even get in touch with them. “Your Honor, I was attempting to purchase a Facebook account when my funds were stolen.” “Isn't it against Facebook's terms of service to purchase a Facebook account?” “Yes, but-” “Case concluded; pay your attorney on your way out.”
Let's pretend you locate a reputable website and successfully buy an account. You must now edit the information to make it your own. Congratulations, you now have a page full of people who don't know who you are, aren't likely to be in your target demographics, and will unfollow you. I don't have hard statistics, but I believe that when people discover you, the turnover rate of followers is very significant. Many people will just ignore your postings, but many more will wonder “who is this and why are they in my feed?” and will unfollow you.
That is, if everything goes according to plan. After account ownership changes, Facebook has been known to ban accounts. Viral Accounts published a blog post reassuring its followers that the purges are due to TOS breaches such as uploading nudity, abusive material, obscene language, and spam. They cleverly leave out the fact that selling a Facebook page is likewise a violation of the rules of service and a ban-worthy offense.
It's not like you can just conceal the shift in ownership. At the very least, Facebook is aware of the change in IP address and the related admin account. If you alter the information – for example, by taking over the page and making it about your brand – the account may be flagged.
So, even if you pay money and receive a fan page in return, and even if you don't lose half of the followers you paid for, you still have to worry about Facebook deleting your page in the future, which could be anywhere from a week to a year. Facebook may invalidate your purchase with a single sweep of the broom, and there's no way to obtain a refund.
Regulations Regarding Facebook Ownership
When it comes to transferring the ownership of a page on Facebook, the rules are quite strict.
You may now simply alter who is the administrator of a page. The procedure is described above. As far as I'm aware, there is no limit to how many times you can do it. Because it's common for brands to shift about the individuals allocated to different positions in their advertising departments, it's not a good idea to filter or restrict such changes inside. Transferring ownership of the page from one person to another is acceptable and limitless in terms of mechanics.
The issue arises when you change the brand page itself. If you purchased Viral Memes and Soap Pictures with the intention of keeping the brand and doing something with it, go ahead and do so. As long as the brand's former owner isn't retaining it. They may want to maintain their own brand, in which case utilizing their page without altering the information is basically identity theft, for which Facebook may impose a suspension.
Once you control a page as the admin, there are three things you need to alter to make it your own. The first is straightforward; it refers to all of the articles and material. To fit your desired brand, remove the timeline, update the About information, and other aspects of the website. If you have all of the text and pictures ready to go, you can do this in under an hour. You won't be able to delete all of the posts at once, but you may delete a few at a time using the publishing tools and keep going until everything is gone.
The official name of the page is the second thing you should alter. Because you can't simply alter the name of a page, this one is difficult. You must be the page's administrator, and once you are, go to the About section and select Page Info. Click Edit in the Name area to create a new page name. After that, you click continue and then request a modification. The name change will then need to be approved by Facebook. Even yet, Facebook approves name changes on a pretty regular basis. They set rules for what a name may include, but there's nothing wrong with altering the name of a page as long as you stay inside those limits.
The page's username, which is the same as the vanity URL, is the third piece you must alter. Usernames/URLs must be unique, adhere to strict rules, and are considerably more restricted. In reality, Facebook only enables you to alter your username once.