‘Impossible’ is a social community encouraging others to give and receive gifts for free. Founded two years ago by model, actress and environmentalist Lily Cole, the idea draws on our history as close-knit communities that help, share and support others without necessarily receiving anything in return.
The platform has been slow to take off; it is likely that without Lily Cole’s name it might not even be where it is today but it is growing and beginning to take shape and find a place for itself amongst the noise of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the like.
The strength of this platform lies on Lily Cole’s belief that people want to do good things and are willing to do them for free. Cole understands that social media although often in the news for negative community behaviour (cyberbullying and so forth) isn’t all doom and gloom. ‘Impossible’ drives this positive and happy message forward by promoting a sense of community that can be lost on the larger platforms.
The slow growth of the project and its size works in its favour; it reflects the idea that something small can make a change. Some of the gifts people are asking for are small but to that person it will make a huge difference to their day/week/month/life, and it’s with that notion that ‘Impossible’ is proving that positive messages can change a landscape and make waves in how people communicate and share. I wouldn’t be surprised that by the end of 2014 ‘Impossible’ sees an increase in users like that of SnapChat in 2013.
So how does this new social network, work?
You register either with email, Facebook or Twitter and simply create a ‘wish’ or offer a ‘gift’.
‘I wish someone could teach me how to play piano’ / ‘I am a piano teacher and can #give a free lesson’
The community can then share this by ‘loving’ (much like a Facebook like), commenting or sharing it with followers. The hope is that everyone will have their wish granted / receive a gift, but it is important to note that no money is to exchange hands. A gift in return of a gift is acceptable although not encouraged, for example; someone may wish for a plumber to fix a leaky tap and in return are offering to clean the community member’s bathroom.
Is there space for businesses on the social network?
It’s not yet clear how Lily and her team will generate an income, there has been conversation around charging for the app download but it is something she is struggling with, after all the selling point to users is that you can give and receive for free.
There are no business pages as yet and guidelines state that it must not be used for commercial purpose whether business or individual; however businesses of all sizes can gain something from this social network. If a company is willing to offer a meal at a restaurant for someone’s anniversary or send a carer around to a family to give a caregiver a break, then it is still within the realms of the gift economy even if it does hold an element of self-promotion, it remains charitable and at very little cost to the business.
There is nothing to say that Lily Cole and her team won’t consider allowing businesses to be openly active on the site, especially for specific industries, in the future. In the meantime there is no harm in signing up as an individual and offering your skills as long as you stick to the guidelines and don’t share business page links.