For the first time, Facebook now allows personal user profiles to be converted into official business Pages, turning all their friends into fans. The “Profile To Business Page Migration” tool will help people who either created a personal profile for a business before Pages existed, or accidentally started accumulating fans as friends instead of Likes.
The migration tool should come as exciting news to business owners struggling with the decision of whether to continue a profile with its limited capabilities, or start a Page from scratch with zero fans. Facebook has not formally announced the tool, but it appears to be available worldwide.
Facebook has added a new Help Center article on converting profiles to Pages with details about the migration process. Any user with a verified account can use the migration tool. Once migrated, the user still uses the same login and password to access Facebook. Their profile photo will be transferred, and all their friends will be converted into users who Like their Page.
All other profile content, including additional photos and wall posts will disappear and all Like connections to other Pages will be severed. Therefore, anyone using the migration tool should consider using Facebook’s Download Your Information tool first to back up their content. It appears that users with less than 100 friends can rename their new Page during the migration process giving them a chance at rebranding, but those with more than 100 friends must use their profile name.
Converted Pages don’t appear in the interests section of users who were previously friends with the profile and were migrated, limiting the potential for the tool to be used for bait-and-switch. In some cases, users may receive a message informing them that one of their friendships has been converted to a Like.
Migration will be especially useful for users who initially planned to use their profile to promote a small business, such as an event promotion company or consultancy, but eventually hit Facebook’s 5000 friend limit. It will also allow those promoting a business with a personal profile to begin using third-party Page applications that allow them to set up a Like-gated landing page, run contests, collect email addresses, and recreate functionality from websites.
The tool also allows Facebook to gracefully shift users towards terms of service compliance, as representing a business or other non-human entity with a profile instead of a Page is prohibited.
There is no way to convert a Page to a user profile, so users should be sure they want to migrate before doing so. They won’t be able to write on the walls of friends, see their updates in the news feed, or access their messages once they become a Page. Users won’t be able to register for a new account using any of the email addresses or phone number associated with their old profile. In some cases, the migration can cause a user’s Facebook vanity URL to longer work.
Overall, the option is a huge win for some would-be Page admins. However, users should be extremely cautious about using the tool, and it shouldn’t be used by anyone except those who weren’t using their profile for anything but business.
Update 3/31/2011 4pm PST: Many of our commenters have expressed a desire for a “merge profile with Page” tool. However, this tool would have significant abuse potential, as hacked or stolen accounts could be quickly rolled into the hacker’s Page. Therefore, its unlikely that Facebook will add such as merge option.
Update 3/31/2011 9pm PST: The migration tool is no longer accessible at the URL listed above. The removal may be a temporary or a permanent change. We’ll continue to update this article to reflect the return or continued absence of the feature.
Update 4/4/2011 3:30pm PST: The migration tool has been reinstated at the URL listed above. However, proceed with caution as we’ve heard reports of breakage during the conversion that has caused profiles to be deleted without being replaced with a new Page.
Update 4/6/2011 5:00pm PST: Facebook has released a Profile to Business Page Migration Appeal tool for users who wish to reverse the conversion process. We recommend the appeal process to any users who didn’t like the outcome of the conversion, converted accidentally, or whose conversion was interrupted resulting in them having neither a profile or a Page.
Update 9/14/2011: Facebook has told us that the profile to Page conversion tool will also convert a user’s subscribers to Likes.
[Thanks to Amit Lavi for the tip]
Strategies for Page admins and a walk-through of all the changes from the February 2011 Page redesign can be found in the Facebook Marketing Bible, Inside Network’s guide to marketing and advertising on Facebook.