YouTube handles: All you need to know

Launched in 2005, YouTube is the second most visited website in the world. The platform currently has more than 2.5 billion monthly users, and as of February 2020, over 500 hours of video are posted on YouTube every minute. 

Often cited as a video sharing platform, the site has in recent years extended its offering, including YouTube Premium, as well as YouTube Kids, YouTube Music and YouTube Shorts.

In its latest update, the platform has now introduced handles: a new way to identify your YouTube channel.

What are handles?

Similar to other platforms such as twitter and instagram, handles on YouTube will be used to identify channels and connect users. 

Normally, multiple YouTube channels can have the same channel name. The new roll out will mean that each channel will now have a unique handle, which will start with the ‘@’ symbol. 

Why have they been introduced?

The aim of handles is to make it ‘easier for fans to discover content’ and reassure users that they are ‘interacting with their favourite creators’. As each channel will now have a unique handle, it will be easier for users to correctly differentiate between channels with the same name. 

The introduction of handles will also allow users to tag accounts in videos, and direct people to their channel even when they are not on YouTube. The handles are now reflected in the channel URL, meaning users can promote their channel on various social media platforms and websites. This therefore makes it easier for content creators to gain more subscribers to their channel and increase their video views.

How has it been implemented?

YouTube has rolled out this new feature gradually. Channels with a greater presence on the platform and larger audiences were the first to have access to the handles selection process. Those with fewer subscribers, or channels which are inactive were then invited to update handles.

If a new handle name is not selected, YouTube will automatically assign one. If users have a personalised URL, the unique aspect of the URL will by default become the handle.

What does this mean for YouTube?

This latest feature is a clear sign that YouTube wants to be more than a streaming platform. By introducing handles YouTube is becoming a more interactive, collaborative, and social space, following the lead of other sites such as instagram and TikTok. 

How individuals and organisations now use YouTube in their content creation and sharing process will inevitably have to adapt, as viewers will come to expect a more interactive experience with creators.