Can I sell a Twitter account?
May 10, 2011 6:48 AM   Subscribe

I have a social networking account I'm thinking of trying to sell. Is this possible/a good idea?

I use my MetaFilter handle in a lot of places on the interwebs. I've never really given it much thought--I just started using it maybe 12 years ago, owing (no doubt) to an adolescent fixation on a television show that I now kind of regret, but what can you do. Point is, I own this account name on Twitter. Last year, the show in question (sorry for being obtuse, I just don't want this to show up in a Google Alert or whatever--Google my username if you are confused) actually used that Twitter handle as a throwaway joke in an episode. I first learned of this when my (long unused) account suddenly blew up with three hundred follower requests. Every so often, they'll re-air the episode, and the same thing will happen.

As I've said, I don't use this account for anything, and while I toyed with a couple of ideas of what to do with it (use it to advertise competing networks' shows; create a character completely off the rails and see if anyone fell for it; etc), I continued doing nothing. It is now kind of a burden--dismissing follower requests is kind of a hassle I don't want to deal with. At the same time, it seems like this is an account that the network in question might enjoy having, lest they turn their throwaway joke into a marketing opportunity of some sort. (I don't know how/what they would do with it; I think Twitter is kind of ridiculous, cf. the 'unused' part of the account) Thus, this seems like an excellent opportunity for both of us to get what we want. So, my questions, in no particular order:
  • Is this something I can sell to the network that airs the show?
  • If so, how do I go about starting this conversation with them? I don't see an obvious contact address on their website; do I just email the generic feedback address and ask them to forward it?
  • What sort of compensation should I ask for? Is there any precedent for this?
  • Am I being a complete idiot by asking this question in an open forum and laying bare my intentions and my lack of real interest in the account? Should I anonymize/delete this question immediately?
  • Are there likely to be any other legal/social/moral/whatever hurdles that I'm totally failing to consider? (The answer to this whole question can be 'don't do this, you idiot' and I promise I won't be offended)
posted by Mayor West to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I cannot answer most of your questions, but I would contact the producers of the show, not the network on which it airs.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:57 AM on May 10, 2011

Can't answer most of your questions, but you might drop a tweet or a DM to Seth MacFarlane himself. He semi-frequently responds to fan questions on Twitter. Maybe he'd buy it from you personally.
posted by Gator at 6:57 AM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yeah, the people who wrote or produced the show, not those who air it on TV, would be the ones most likely to be in a position (and be interested) in buying this from you, assuming they are in fact interested.

Going to the network will either result in confusion on their part or you getting the run-around.
posted by dfriedman at 7:02 AM on May 10, 2011

If they paid money for social network accounts named after characters in their shows, and other people found out about this, they would then be submerged by people registering all possible social network character accounts and asking them for money. So I doubt they would do this, but who knows. Probably can't hurt to ask.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:05 AM on May 10, 2011

On Twitter, if someone has your preferred username, you make a subtle change to it and off you go. People will find you. @loisgriffin has 16 followers, @Lois_GriffinFG has 58,000. That suggests to me that the value of your account having the correct name is low to zero.
posted by IanMorr at 7:06 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yep, DMing family guy writers via twitter is how I would do it. I'm sure that seeing 'mayorwest' in their DM list would jump out at them. If you're a fan of the show and the money isn't important to you, I wouldn't ask for money up front -- maybe some signed animation cells instead or something.
posted by empath at 7:08 AM on May 10, 2011

I agree that ordinarily this account would be completely worthless, but it's been mentioned on the show itself, so it might have some value to them, but I wouldn't expect very much. If they cared, they'd have used a name that wasn't used.
posted by empath at 7:10 AM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

There's already a Mayor Adam West on Twitter, so I don't know if Mayor West would be of any interest. Nothing asked, nothing lost, though.
posted by cooker girl at 7:41 AM on May 10, 2011

Yeah, it's only of any interest because of the explicit mention of the name (as a plot point, even!) in an episode. I don't want to come across as a douchebag domain-squatter-type, either--I actually think it's just much more valuable to them than it is to me.

I'll go message Seth and see if there's any response. Is it actually possible to send a direct message on Twitter without someone following you? Because that seems like... not a good policy.
posted by Mayor West at 7:47 AM on May 10, 2011

No, you only message people who follow you. @-reply is the only option unless you have another way to contact someone.
posted by mkb at 7:49 AM on May 10, 2011

My username is also the name of a major Canadian bank, and I get messages for them ALL THE TIME (usually complaints). I contacted them about selling them the account, and they did not care at all, even though my username is shorter than theirs (they appended "group" to mine for their English account, and I don't remember what for their French account). So my guess is they won't care. It's not like you're pretending to be from the show.
posted by desjardins at 7:57 AM on May 10, 2011

I thought about trying to do this too. My twitter account's fairly dormant but the username is three characters long. It's not only made up of my initials but is also the name of an Asian radio station. I'm forever getting tweets from Indonesian pop stars saying things like "Today, spending the day @zzz [not the actual radio station/username] radio doing interviews" and they clearly don't realise the "@zzz" part of that tweet means I'll get the tweet directly. It's OK though, I quite like it. Also, when I looked up twitter's T&Cs, I'm pretty sure part of it said that all usernames were owned by twitter and weren't resellable/transferrable so I never really thought about selling it after that.
posted by uk_giffo at 8:50 AM on May 10, 2011

If you don't mind doing business with semi-unsavory types, you'd probably have a better chance making money by selling it not to the producers of FG, but people who run unauthorized, for-profit SEO minefield sites about it ( or whatever).
posted by mreleganza at 11:35 AM on May 10, 2011

If you actually want to sell it for money, your best bet is to schedule a bunch of Mayor Westisms over the next couple of months, build the follower count then sell to someone who will make money for it like mreleganza suggests.

Otherwise, just @reply to Seth McFarlane and try to blag some swag out of it.
posted by turkeyphant at 2:34 PM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

create a character completely off the rails and see if anyone fell for it; etc

Don't think you can get more off the rails than FG.

You could just put a note in your profile saying you're not associated with the show.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:16 PM on May 10, 2011

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