YouTube’s moving more into line with other social networks with the addition of @handles for channels, which will make it easier to drive traffic to your profile, and promote your channel in the app.
As explained by YouTube:
“Handles are a new unique identifier (example @youtubecreators) & ALL YouTube channels will have one. Your unique @handle will help people find & interact with you & your YouTube channel. And because handles are unique (unlike channel names), it’s easy to confirm if you’re engaging with the right person or not.”
As you can see in this example, your @handle, which will be unique to your channel (unlike Channel names), will directly connect people to your content, like it does on Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, etc.
Your handle will also function as a unique channel URL, providing another branding opportunity. Up till now, custom channel URLs have only been available to creators with 100 subscriptions, but now, YouTube’s making the option available to all users in the app.
As shown in the above example, @handles will also make it easier and faster to mention channels in comments, community posts and video descriptions.
“For example, creators can be shouted out in a mention in comments or tagged in the title of a recent collab, helping them increase visibility and reach with new audiences.”
Part of the idea here is to better promote channels, in alignment with habitual trends, with a key consideration likely being Shorts and helping to maximize Shorts channel growth by making it easier to follow creators.
But another element that YouTube’s looking to tackle is the rise of copycat channels, where scammers create channels that look similar to popular YouTubers’, often by using the same channel name.
Back in June, YouTube announced that it would no longer allow channels to hide subscriber counts, in an effort to provide more transparency, and limit the impact of this approach, while it also announced that special characters would no longer be allowed in channel names, another process that scammers use replicate channels.
By ensuring that each channel has a unique @handle, which they can promote direct, that will make it harder to create replica channels, and trick users with uploads and scams.
It’s a good update – but it is also worth noting that you’ll want to jump onto your unique YouTube @handle fast.
“Over the next few weeks, we’ll slowly open access for all YouTube channels to choose a unique @handle. If you don’t choose one by November 14th, we will begin assigning handles automatically based on your channel name (which you can change!).”
So you can change it, but if you take no action, YouTube will start doling out its own handles, based on your current channel name, from November 14th.
Your @handle will become your URL (unless you already have a custom URL), while any previous URLs for your YouTube presence will automatically be re-directed to your new channel name.
YouTube says that it’ll be letting channels know when they can update their URL over the next few weeks.