Women who change their name when they get married know what a time-consuming, disruptive process this can be. You have to get in touch with the right offices to get the process rolling, alert all your credit card companies, change legal documents and make sure your bank accounts reflect your new moniker. It’s not an easy task.
Now imagine how much harder this is to do when you’re a business, rather than a person. People change names with some regularity, thanks to weddings and divorces. It’s not as common for businesses, but sometimes it has to be done. In certain cases the name of the business doesn’t properly reflect the services being offered. Or perhaps there’s a legal issue with the name, which forces the company to make a few tweaks.
Whatever the reason for doing it, changing a business’s name has many repercussions, and one place it resonates particularly is on Facebook. The social media site has all sorts of rules set up for such an occasion. But what happens when a company makes not one but two name changes? Here’s a look at a unique case involving a rehab center in the United States that changed its name twice over a brief period and was forced to get creative in migrating its old Facebook page to the new name.
Dealing with a Business Name Change on Facebook
Finding a New Name
At first, the residential rehab center in Jensen Beach, Florida, was called 12 Palms Recovery Center, but it soon changed its name to 12 Palms Rehab. Another nearby business in Florida had a similar name, however, and that forced the rehab center into another name switch, finally landing on 12 Keys Rehab. All this happened over a three- to four-month period.
The name changes necessitated two domain changes, and the rehab center also needed to change its Facebook page to reflect the new names. That’s where it was faced with a big challenge. Facebook allows businesses with more than 200 fans to change their names only once after setting up an initial page. The rehab center had already done so when switching from 12 Palms Recovery Center to 12 Palms Rehab.
But the rehab center had gained thousands of fans on Facebook from a charity promotion it had recently run, and 12 Keys Rehab didn’t want to lose those fans by creating a new page and begging them to like the new page. How would it get around the name change rule and preserve all the fans it had worked so hard to gain?
Migrating to a Different Page
The answer came in an entirely new approach. Instead of renaming the page, 12 Keys Rehab discovered it could create a new page and merge it with the old one, which would move all the old fans to the new page without requiring them to “re-like” the page. This was a huge discovery, because the center could not be sure it would have gotten all the fans to migrate to that new page. As an added bonus, the new page allowed them to change their username to the current name of the business.
Still, merging pages wasn’t easy. For one thing, the old status updates on the 12 Palms Rehab Center page would not automatically move to the new 12 Keys Rehab page. In fact, any content that had been posted on the 12 Palms Rehab Center would be lost.
Again, it took some ingenuity, but 12 Keys Rehab figured out a way to get those updates moved over. Before merging the two pages, the rehab center tasked an intern with cutting and pasting the previous five months’ worth of status updates to the new page. Facebook’s scheduling tool wouldn’t allow those posts to be backdated to when they actually appeared, since the new Facebook page hadn’t been created then.
Instead, the intern spread out the posts over a series of a few days. Though they all appeared to have been posted in just a few hours, 12 Keys Rehab still preserved all the information and interactions in chronological order. It was a time-intensive process. The intern had to go through the old page post by post, saving the images that had appeared with them, re-uploading them with the status on the same page, and copying over all the text.
Unfortunately for the rehab center, the interactions that went with those posts, such as the links and comments that fans had posted, were lost. There was simply no way to move them. Once all the moveable information had been copied from the old page, 12 Keys Rehab announced the changes on the new Facebook page, explaining the name change in a status update.
Lessons From This Case Study
There are two important lessons from this case study. The first is that while name changes on Facebook can be daunting, they are possible and well worth the effort to execute so that businesses don’t lose any fans.
And secondly, be creative when thinking about how to move things. It took a lot of elbow grease, but 12 Keys Rehab managed to preserve most of its old page despite merging instead of simply renaming it. That’s time well spent.
Have you ever dealt with a business name change? What kind of effect did this experience have on your social media and marketing efforts in general? Share your experiences in the comments below.