YouTube announced the ubiquitous social network concept of “handles” today to boost the community aspects of the video site as well as improve creator/channel identification.

Compared to channel names, handles are “truly unique to each channel so creators can further establish their distinct presence and brand on YouTube.” They will appear prominently on channel pages and Shorts with the goal of being “instantly and consistently recognizable.”  

Besides identification and branding, @-handles will allow for simpler and faster mentions 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.

In terms of availability, creators will be notified “over the next month” when they choose a handle. Channels that already have a personalized URL will automatically have that become their default handle. That said, “they can opt to change the handle for their channel as soon as the notification in YouTube Studio comes through.”

Meanwhile, a matching[handle] URL will be created:

If a channel already has a personalized URL, there’s no need to update links: they’ll automatically be redirected to the new, handle-based URL to create a better, more unified presence for creators on YouTube.

YouTube has posted a FAQ here, and the video site says the rollout will be gradual. The handle selection process is based on factors like “overall YouTube presence, subscriber count, and whether the channel is active or inactive.”

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Abner Li

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