How to transfer social handles from third-party pages to your own

Premium social handles are often associated with brand maturity, the right combinations can quickly improve brand recall, social followings and sales.  As a result, desirable social handles are valuable assets that can be bought, sold and ported between social accounts in much the same format as premium domains.

Here’s a quick walk through the process of transferring premium social handles from third-party pages to your own.

The process is slightly different for each platform, this guide assumes consent of all parties and I’ve listed instructions for the big four below:

How to transfer an existing Twitter handle to your Twitter account

It is quick and easy to transfer an existing Twitter handle to your Twitter account.  Here’s how it’s done:

Let’s say your current Twitter handle is UKCameras3000 and you want to change your handle to UKCameras, which is already in use.

You have access to the UKCameras account or you have agreed to purchase the handle from the current owner.

Simply complete the following steps to transfer the handle:

Step 1

The current UKCameras account must release the handle you wish to use.  To do this, you (or the seller) must log in to the account and update the handle to  any new value or term, this will release the UKCameras handle immediately.

Step 2

Now log into your UKCameras3000 Twitter account and update the handle to UKCameras.

As if by magic… it is now available.  Simply save the change and your new handle will be live immediately.

It is worth noting:

  • Accounts cannot be merged.
  • Change your handle, not your account. Never switch from using your existing Twitter account to using another account simply to change the handle. Always transfer the handle to your existing account using the steps above.  Switching accounts results in the loss of all followers and posting history.
  • You cannot transfer followers – followers are locked to accounts, not handles.

How to transfer an existing LinkedIn business page handle/URL to your own business page.

It is easy to move an existing LinkedIn handle to your own business page, provided you have consent from the current owner.

Please also note LinkedIn applies a 365-day time-delay before releasing page handles for re-use.  Bear that in mind when negotiating to purchase an existing LinkedIn handle – not everyone has the patience to wait 12 months.

Here’s how it’s done:

Let’s say your current LinkedIn page URL is http://linkedin.com/company/UKCameras3000, and you want to change your handle to http://linkedin.com/company/UKCameras which is already in use.

You are either a page admin for the http://linkedin.com/company/UKCameras account or you have negotiated to purchase the handle.

Simply complete the following steps to transfer the handle.

Step 1

First, the current business page owner must release the handle you need.  To do this they must log in to the account, navigate to the business page admin view and update the handle to something different.

Don’t hold your breath: this will release the http://linkedin.com/company/UKCameras handle after 365 days (really).

Step 2

Now log into your http://linkedin.com/company/UKCameras3000 business page and update the handle to …/UKCameras. Boom… not possible.

Now diarise this for 365 days’ time and stop trying to jump the gun.  You’ve already been told the new handle will be available in a year.  Go do something else for 12 months and come back to this.

It is worth noting:

  • Accounts cannot be merged.
  • Always change your handle, not your account. Never switch from using your existing LinkedIn Business Page to another business page just to change the handle. Always transfer the handle to your existing account using the steps above.  Switching accounts results in the loss of all followers and posting history.
  • You cannot transfer followers. Followers are locked to business pages, not handles.

How to transfer an existing Instagram username to your own page

Moving an Instagram handle to your own page is relatively straightforward, as long as the name you want to use is not already taken or you have negotiated with the current owner to release the name to you.

Your URL on Instagram is formed by your username, so when you change your username your URL changes too.

Step 1

First, the CamerasUK Instagram page owner must release the username that you need.  To do this they must log in to their account, click on the gear (or ‘Edit Profile’ button) and change their username to something else.   This will allow you to change your page from https://www.instagram.com/UKCameras3000 to https://www.instagram.com/UKCameras.

Step 2

Now you can log in to your account and change your username to UKCameras.

Step 3

You may now wish to set up a new page under your old name (just to advise that your page has moved)… the old URL may still be on printed material or there may still be links floating around out there on the internet or in emails.

Rather than serve a 404 not found page, anyone typing in or clicking on a link to your old account will be able to see by the single post you place here that your Instagram page has moved.

Job done!

It is worth noting:

  • Accounts cannot be merged.
  • Change your username, not your account. Never switch from using your existing Instagram page to using another simply to change the username. Always transfer the username to your existing page using the steps above.  Switching accounts results in the loss of all followers and posting history.
  • You cannot transfer followers – followers are locked to accounts, not handles.

How to transfer an existing Facebook vanity URL to your own page.

The waters are much murkier when it comes to Facebook.

For a start, its terms of service explicitly state that:

“You will not transfer your account (including any Page or application you administer) to anyone without first getting our written permission.”

Of course, we are not looking to take over a page, just a name. But the Ts & Cs go on to say:

“You will not transfer any of your rights or obligations under this Statement to anyone else without our consent.”

And, it could be argued that this may legally cover the takeover of a vanity URL.

However, with these important caveats set to one side, social media legal specialists concur that the following will work and not place you in hot water:

Step 1
Require the owner of the UKCameras page to deactivate its social media accounts and agree not to open any new accounts under these names.

This is not be likely to in breach of Facebook’s terms of service.

Step 2

Log in to your Facebook UKCameras3000 page and click ‘About’ on the left side of your page, followed by clicking ‘Edit’ next to your page’s name. Enter the new page name (CamerasUK), click to continue and review.

Step 3

There is one area of uncertainty in this method.

There does not appear to be a consistent time lag between a page name becoming available after it is released.  At best this appears to occur almost immediately at worst it appears to take on LinkedIn proportions of up to a year. And, during thus time, there is a risk that cyber-squatters will pick up the name before you… so be careful.

Facebook is notoriously hard to contact to enquire about, or to publicly pin down answers to such questions, so it really is a case of keeping fingers crossed.

It is worth noting:

  • Pages cannot be merged.
  • Change your page name, not your account. Never switch from using your existing Facebook page to using another simply to change the page name. Always transfer the name to your existing page using the steps above.  Switching accounts results in the loss of all followers and posting history.
  • You cannot transfer followers – followers are locked to accounts, not handles.

Can you transfer social handles from third-party pages to your own?

The short answer is yes.

It is achievable for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

It’s just more nuanced for some and a waiting game for others.

But, at least now you know it can be done – and how to do it.

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