What Facebook doesn't tell you about Profile to Page Conversion

There’s a lot Facebook doesn’t tell you about how creating a Page from your Facebook Profile works. This post brings you some of the secrets, so you know them now rather than after pulling your hair out.

Quickly: why would you even bother converting from a Profile to a Page?
Well, let’s make clear that as of 2019 there is no ‘conversion’. You ‘create’ a Page from your ‘Profile’, certain data can be copied across and certain migration actions can be performed. You would do this for marketing reasons, including because you accidentally setup your business with a profile, which is against Facebook usage policies. You might be migrating from a Profile to a Page so that your business can reach Page-only promotional and advertising tools. In my case, I was creating a Page from my Profile because I outgrew the social marketing functionality of my profile and needed the tools that only a Facebook Page can offer.

Changes over time
Over time the process has changed and different kinds of data and content get lost/transferred/copied. This post is updated as of summer 2019.

It seems that, dating back at least 12 months, the Facebook Profile to Page tool has some technical issues that oftentimes affect its performance, seemingly randomly. I discuss these issues in further detail below and explain how you can mitigate against some of the risks caused by the tool’s poor performance.

Photo H/T Facebook for Creators

The docs are no good
Facebook’s guideline document (How do I convert my profile to a Facebook Page?) is not too bad but it contains one or two inaccuracies or simplifications that can be misleading. For folks with mission critical social media presences to handle, fuller and more accurate documentation would be good. I hope to fill the gap here with some additional insights into how the process works of summer 2019.

The four-step process
This is how the process works… when it works:
(1) You make selections of Friends, Followers, Friend Requests, Photos, Photo Albums, and Videos. Then you submit your selections and:
(2) The page ‘creates’, during which time content is copied over to your new unpublished page.

Then, once the page creates (can take 10 minutes, several hours or even days):

(3) You are able to use ‘Profile Migration Tools’ in the Page to further update your new page.
(4) You are able to Publish your new page and have access to further tools in ‘Profile Migration Tools’ for 14 days.

Is the page ever automatically published when it’s created?
No. The Facebook docs says: “Your new Page will automatically publish once the conversion process is finished. To change this setting, click to select Off next to Publish Page when done at the top.” This is wrong. The page is never automatically published; it’s always unpublished and awaits publication. This documentation is obviously outdated and is a relic from a previous iteration of the Profile to Page system.

*Caution* with making initial selections
The Profile to Page interface is offered at www.facebook.com/pages/create/migrate and the interface leaves a lot to be desired. Mainly, there is no way of saving your progress in selections. If you leave the open page, you lose your selections. The same goes for a browser or computer crash – you’ll use your selections. I recommend that advanced users use a tool to manually save their selection progress – either by taking a video screenshot of their selections, or by using a Chrome extension to copy-out their data.

Eugina explains perfectly how to do the selections on her article published in 2012 and last updated in February 2019:

H/T Eugina and BananaDesk Blog

Further, it’s worth noting that the count of friends shown in “All Friends” will not necessarily match the total number of friends you have on your profile. This is because here you can only select from friends that have active profiles (ones that are not blocked/disabled/suspended/etc). In my case, I had around 3000 friends to choose from in this interface, out of something like 3300 friends. That is because around 300 friends’ profiles were inactive.

What *actually* happens to your selections
Let’s break down roughly what happens to these selections, because it’s not entirely clear from the Facebook docs what happens.

(1) Friends you select (and don’t select)
Friends you select are left on your profile (they remain friends), but they also auto-like and auto-follow your page when you create it. On publication of the page, they are also notified of the page’s existence.

Friends you don’t select are left on your profile (they remain friends), but are later available in Profile Migration Tools once the page is created and published, at which point you can choose whether to silently have them auto-like and auto-follow your page. They are never notified when your page is created or published or they’re later selected; they are just silently added. Note (reiterating): friends you select initially, aren’t available for further selection here; only ones you didn’t select appear here for selection in this later tool.

To clarify one thing: In the docs, Facebook says: “Once your new Page is published: Your profile’s followers, friends and friend requests will get notified that you’ve created a new Page.” As explained above, this isn’t fully true. Only those you select in the initial selection screen are notified on page publication. Friends you select later in the Profile to Page migration tool to be likers/followers of the page are never notified.

Screenshot shows how these additional friend selection tools are only available once the page is published.


Ones the page is published you can then make selections of the previously-unselected friends

Note to advanced users: it seems that these additional Profile to Page tools, bizarrely, are legacy tools that are still available. That is, they were part of previous versions of the Profile to Page process when you made selections only after page creation.

(2) Followers you select (and don’t select)
Followers you select are moved to the page on page publish. They became page followers, not page likers (see screenshot below). They are notified that they have been moved to follow the page instead of follow the profile (see screenshot below). [Note to self: do testing on what happens to unselected followers.]

(3) Videos you select (and don’t select)
Videos you select are copied to the page, but without their original timestamps (and without likes or comments). Here’s another secret they don’t tell you: You cannot manually backdate their times to a time before the new page’s creation. (Ordinarily, with Pages content, you *can* backdate an item’s date.)
Videos you don’t select are untouched and remain on your profile.

Photo H/T Facebook for Creators

(4) Photo Albums you select (and don’t select)
Photo Albums you select are copied: in their entirety with all containing photos, with their descriptions and with all timestamps (hooray!), but without likes or comments. Note: although the ‘post date/time’ of the album/photo is copied, the ‘publish date/time’ isn’t copied. That’s normal though (see link about backdating) and doesn’t matter too much.
Photo Albums you don’t select are untouched and remain on your profile.

(5) Photos you select (and don’t select)
This should be simple but is not – I outline a couple of bugs regarding photos in the next section. But when it does work, this is what’s meant to happen:

First, though, photos that you can select from include all photos from all albums (including Profile Images, Cover Photos, Timeline Photos, Mobile Photos and normal Photo Albums). Because there’s also a Photo Album selections interface (see #4 above), there are some complicated combinations of selections to consider.

> If you select the Photo Album in Photo Albums, but don’t select any of its photo in Photos, then the whole album and its photos are copied across as explained in #4 above.

> If you select some photos from an album but don’t select the album in Photo Albums, the photos are copied into a new partial album with the new same name and description and date/times.

> If you select all photos from an album but don’t select the album in Photo Albums, as above, everything gets copied across (as if you selected the whole album in Photo Albums).

> If you select some photos from an album and do select the album in Photo Albums, I can’t tell you what happens. Whether all get copied or some, I don’t know. [Note to self: test this for folks.]

Photos you don’t select are not touched and remain on the profile.

Sometimes photos don’t copy at all
In some cases, no photos ever copy at all. Literally, it just doesn’t work at all. Sometimes only a single profile photo and cover photo copy, but everything else never copies. That’s why I found in testing.

Sometimes the photos partially copy or a weird temporary album appears
One of the problems with this whole Profile to Page migration feature is that often stalls.

It takes time to copy photos and videos on Facebook’s servers, sure. But sometimes after months, the process still doesn’t complete and content isn’t copied across. Facebook support are useless. You’d get more support phoning up a local builder and asking him to help you.

All you can do is delete the page that was created and resubmit the migration from scratch but with your fingers cross this next time for good luck.

In cases where the page never finishes creating, it’s oftentimes the case that some photos never get copied across. In such cases, you can sometimes end up seeing an album in the Page’s Photo’s All Albums entitled “Photos from Profile”. In my case, I had this, combined with a phantom Profile Picture that was ‘copied’ to my page that never even existed on my Profile…

This speaks to just how buggy the whole process is. When the page creation process stalls, you are left for hours, days, weeks and months (literally) with that “Creating Your Page…” banner and Facebook support may never come to your aid after messaging them feedback.

I think the best way to avoid the Page creation process failing is to minimise the photos and videos you copy over – as this seems to be a reproducible reason for it stalling (that some photos/videos don’t transfer properly).

Photo Album copying in Profile Migration Tools is completely broken
As mentioned, once your new page has been created, you have access to legacy Profile Migration Tools. You can tweak your new Page’s name, select actions to perform on previously-unselected friends (once the page is published), and you can – apparently – choose Photo Albums to copy over. That’s weird, of course, because you already chose which Photo Albums to copy over. It seems this whole tab is completely broken and I can’t get it to work at all. It shows the Photo Albums that you previously selected would/could/have been copied (and the correct numbers of select child photos), but nothing actually works here and there are no thumbnails. Great job, Facebook!

Photos get new permalinks
When photos are copied, they get new photo and album IDs (so, for instance, there is no redirection from the photos on your profile to your page – they are literally copied afresh). That means that if someone shared a photo from your profile, even after the migration and creation of your new page, they won’t suddenly be sharing the new page’s photo – they’ll still be sharing your profile’s old photo. This is a key point to bear in mind in terms of social media marketing and privacy issues.

Photos can copy out of order
Moreover, when photos copy over they are not necessarily copied in chronological order. That is, sometimes photos appear in a different in-album order to how they appeared on your profile!

Pages that result sometimes can’t be deleted immediately
In the case that the page creation process fails – or for another reason –, you need or want to delete the page that was created, only in some cases does Facebook let you immediately delete the page. Sometimes, though, it treats the page as if it’s been up and running for ages and issues you with a 14-day waiting period before the page can be deleted. When this waiting period thing crops up, that can be a real pain for you if you’re wanting to try the Profile to Page process again.

Pages that result can’t be unpublished
In some cases, Facebook won’t let you unpublish the page you created and published via this whole process. It gives you this message warning that the page can’t be unpublished for 7 days:

Good news: Nothing destructive is every done until you publish the new page
If all goes wrong – like it does in so many cases, including my first attempt and oftentimes in testing –, it’s worth noting that nothing is ever lost or deleted, neither is anyone ever notified or messaged, nothing is ever moved or transferred, until you hit publish on the page you created. So if things go wrong with the migration or copying, just be sure not to publish the page. If things go wrong, consider to delete the unpublished page and it should allow you to (in tests it let me) do the Profile to Page process again.

The Username of the Profile won’t transfer but…
If your Profile had a custom username (like mine did – harryfear), this will not copy to your new page on creation, or even on publishing of the page. However, if you change your profile’s username (releasing it), you can then immediately claim it as the page’s username! Bravo, Facebook!

You can merge the new page with an old page
Yes – and many ask –, you can merge the new page with another page. I hope to do this in my case.

You’ll lose your blue Verification tick on your profile
So says Facebook. In my case, this didn’t happen.