When advertisers discuss successful branded content on YouTube, they often use the flashy, shareable, in-your-face efforts of brands like Red Bull and Old Spice as examples. However, a recent infographic from ZEFR shows that user-generated content is as good an asset for some brands as the slickly-produced videos coming from the brands themselves.

The logic is simple: While official branded content is capable of making a splash, the power of YouTube trends is much stronger. For instance, makeup tutorials are a common video type for beauty channels, and the thousands of videos in that category featuring specific products gets a brand’s name mentioned more than the brand itself could ever accomplish with a clever ad. Product unboxing videos, how-to videos, and fan versions of popular commercials also easily outpace official branded efforts.

The Apple example noted in the infographic provides the most practical conclusion: If brands want to get noticed on YouTube, they can make a clever ad and be done with it. But if they want to start a fad, they should focus on releasing content that is as easy to imitate as it is to share.

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