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In the last two weeks, I encountered two very similar client situations related to YouTube channel ownership. I am writing this to offer some lessons learned to hopefully save you from some of the same headaches.

One client, who I’ve worked with for years, has done an outstanding job of building a comprehensive library of videos to demonstrate the machinery they build. They have over 100 videos now, and they are essential as a selling tool, and as a resource to their customers. They upload new video on a weekly basis, and have never had a problem. Until recently. One day, they logged in with their profile as usual, and suddenly couldn’t access the management tools of their YouTube channel.

Of course, I received the panicked phone call as soon as it was noticed. We immediately jumped into action, validating all known credentials for accounts which might be connected to the channel, with absolutely no success. There was no obvious explanation, and I was running out of options.

If you have ever tried to find support for YouTube, you already know that there really isn’t any, outside of advertising. It’s a free service and understandably it would not be cost effective for Google to provide support to every user with a free account.

There was one thing that saved us, though. We changed from a private email server to become a Google Business Class reseller last year. We also moved this client to Google Business Class mail at the same time, which allows us support for these items. After about an hour and a half on the phone with Google’s support team, they were able to identify that there had been a merged, conflicting account at the time of the transition, and sure enough that account was listed as the owner of the YouTube channel. It should have transferred ownership to the new account (who was already listed as a manager of the channel), but even Google/YouTube aren’t perfect and strange things can happen. Why it suddenly came up a year later is still a mystery.

I should note that we would have gotten absolutely nowhere if both we as a company, and this client did not have Google Mail, which allowed the support rep to be more flexible than she probably should have been, and helped to identify a backup of the conflicted account which we could find a way to access.

The bottom line is this: If you have an active business YouTube channel, the account ownership credentials should be treated like critical company property.

Here is a short list of recommendations to set you up for success:

  • Assign ownership of the channel to an account you intend to keep as a permanent address.
  • Add a backup email address you will always have access to.
  • IMPORTANT: Add a backup phone number which can receive text/sms messages. Google may use this to help provide verification numbers to recover a password.
  • That number should be one you expect to always have access to.
  • Keep track of the Owner and any Managers of the account, and keep that list up to date.

I mentioned a second situation with another client which was almost identical. After some effort, we were able to identify the ownership account for the channel, but not the password. Thankfully, the owner had registered the account with a backup number which could receive the needed text message with a verification code.

YouTube can be an extremely valuable resource to your business. Without using caution, you could undo years of hard work with something as simple as a forgotten password and have to start all over. Both of these situations turned out well, but it took hours of work. Hopefully our experience can help set you up for future success.

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