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How Instagram Will Sell Its Soul

A peculiar branding ploy with Nike may be the first signs of an Instagram profit strategy.

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Facebook hasn't yet shown us how it plans to cash in on Instagram, which it acquired last year. After a mere hint at the prospect, buried in Instagram's terms of service, irate users threatened mutiny.

Last week, though, Nike and Instagram joined together to create the NIKEiD for Instagram app, a peculiar partnership combining casual photography with casual footwear. Though it's unclear if Instagram is making anything off the partnership — a representative hasn't yet returned request for comment — this, for now, is the best preview we have of what the business of Instagram may look like.

The app gleans the color palette from your Instagram photos (once you've given them permission to access them) and customizes your sneakers accordingly. The deal allows Instagram to make some money off its cachet as a cool brand, and Nike to borrow some of it.

It's an idea that may work better in theory than in practice. First of all, the integration isn't very deep — this is how you're supposed to repost the picture:


Plus, some of the results can be a bit strange. Here's a few examples of what people are making.


Update: An Instagram spokesperson told BuzzFeed the Nike integration is not part of a revenue generating operation. "Nike is just using Instagram's API in an awesome way—not a formalized partnership and no revenue share," the spokesperson wrote.

Charlie Warzel is a senior writer for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Warzel reports on and writes about the intersection of tech and culture.

Contact Charlie Warzel at

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