When people search for videos on YouTube, they often forget that the popular platform is technically a search engine — the second largest behind Google. Since Google owns YouTube, making videos easier to find has always been Google’s priority to maintain that lead. With people turning to videos increasingly as an entertainment and educational choice, being discoverable on the platform has also become a priority.
To help influencers and other parties who host on the platform, YouTube is introducing a new feature called handles. A handle is a keyword that YouTube users mention to share page posts and community comments. Handles are meant to make it easier for people to find and connect with their favorite channels.
If you are hosting a channel, handles can be a great way to let people discover your content. YouTube is rolling out the new capability, announcing it to YouTube Studio owners by email regarding availability.
Each YouTube channel will have a unique handle, distinct from the URL channel address. If a personalized URL exists for your YouTube channel, the handle name is based on that URL. For example, for my company Zimana, the handle would be @zimanaanalytics. YouTube will automatically assign you a handle if you haven’t yet selected a handle for your channel. You can always change the handle name in YouTube Studio to your preferred name.
Why are YouTube handles being introduced? YouTube is trying new ways to help people find their preferred content. Influencers benefit by gaining a simple hashtag-like phrase that is memorable to viewers or podcast listeners.
One footnote — other platforms have had a variation of the handle format for years. I can type an @ symbol in Linked In or Facebook to mention a page or person. So this is not a radically new feature.
But YouTube may reinvigorate the concept given the growing interest in podcasting. Podcast producers will benefit — this is critical given YouTube’s growing prowess in attracting podcast audiences. I reported on this in a separate post.