There are a number of different reasons why your business may already have a Facebook page without your knowledge. Maybe you have a physical location and a Place was created, which was then merged into a Page. Maybe some employee created one but it was never used. Maybe someone parked the page. In any case, you have two options; take ownership of the existing Page for your business, or create a new Page.
Creating a new Page is a valid option if the existing Page has very little content and few followers. You might have a lot of work ahead of you pruning that page down and repurposing it for your current campaigns. Creating a new Page lets you start from scratch and merge the old page into yours, maintaining contacts.
On the other hand, if the existing page has a reasonable amount of content and followers – such as when you ran it previously but lost the ability to administrate it for some reason – recovering ownership or taking it over may be the best option.
Taking Ownership of an Existing Page
The most common source of an existing empty page for your Business is if you have a physical location and someone else uses local geographic locating to check in to your business. If you don’t already have a Page, that user inputs some information and a basic Page is created. In the past, this was a Place, but Places have been replaced by Pages and all existing Places were merged into Pages.
Thankfully, these Pages do not have a current owner and you are able to take ownership of them in a few simple steps.
- Visit the Page. On the page will be a gear icon for management and settings. Click it and find the entry labeled “Is this your business?” and click it.
- You will be prompted to enter some information about your business. This is the basic profile information you would have had to input when creating the Page from scratch as well. Enter it and submit for verification.
- Verify your ownership. You can do this in two ways; through email or with documentation. The email route is simple, but it requires that you have a Facebook account registered to an email from your business. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org would work, while email@example.com would not. If you cannot use email verification, you must scan and upload documentation for your business, such as a utility bill, business license or tax documentation. The document must show your business name and address.
Once you have finished the verification process, you will be granted admin status over the Page in question. You can begin to fill out the profile and post content to attract new users. Any followers who had previously checked in with the Page will be transferred to your new Page, so you will begin with a base of users.
Recovering Ownership of an Existing Page
Sometimes you can’t follow the above process to take over an existing Page. This can happen for one of two reasons. The first reason is that someone else claimed ownership already; this is possible, though not necessarily common. It may be that someone else runs a business with the same name as yours, and has established their own Page. You will not be able to claim this Page, nor should you. If it is blank or largely unused, you can claim it.
The other reason would be if you had an existing Page and your social manager left for some reason or another. It’s possible that you simply lost access to your Page due to such an event. In these cases, you will need to follow a process to recover ownership of the Page.
Fortunately, the process is easier than it is to claim ownership of an existing Page without an owner. Unfortunately, it can be more time consuming.
- Ask the previous social manager. It’s possible that they simply forgot they were the only ones with the username and password. If you cannot contact them or they refuse to give you control, you can consider if legal action is a possibility. In some cases, however, legal options are not available. Proceed to the Facebook administration method.
- Visit the page and click the gear icon to see settings and options. In this menu, click “report page.” Under report reason, check “Is this your intellectual property?” You will need to fill out a form reporting the violation. Include a brief, factual account of the situation with a minimum of emotional language. You’re telling Facebook the facts, not trying to convince a subjective judge.
- If you have not heard back within a week, encourage other users to do the same thing. It’s possible that the page just hasn’t received enough reports to gain the attention of the Facebook security team. Once they notice, you should be able to have your password reset.
In order to prevent future similar issues, make sure to change the password and, if possible, username on your Admin account. This will secure the top level account against intrusion. From this point forward, make sure anyone you put in control of the page is at maximum a Content Creator and not a Manager. This limits their ability to lock you out of your own account. It should not be possible to lose control over your account a second time.
Creating a New Page
The process for creating a Page is simple and well-documented. If your previous Page was not established or you cannot gain control over it in some way, you may need to create a new page. Once you have a new Page, you can attempt to merge your new Page and the existing Page into one Page under your control. To do this:
- On your new Page – the Page you want to keep – click the gear settings icon and click the Merge Pages -> Merge Duplicate Pages options. This will display a list of Pages Facebook identifies as duplicates of your current Page.
- Click the check box next to any Page you want to merge into your own.
- Click the Merge Pages button to initiate the merger.
This process will merge the followers and check-ins for each Page, but that is all. Any content, posts, photos and even the administrating username for the merged Pages will be removed. All you save are your connections.
If you need to save content, do so before initiating a merger. You can do this with third party tools to download your post history. Remember, a Page merger is irreversible; do not make a choice you can’t take back.
If the Page you want to merge is not listed, unfortunately, it means you cannot merge the pages and will need to take other steps to recover the Page.