Transforming the health of millions with Facebook Free Basics

April 17, 2018  |  Anne Balls

We’ve achieved many major milestones with our Facebook Free Basics content, racking up more than 40 million page views in a month. It’s been a long journey since we started on this project in 2014, but if you haven’t heard of Free Basics, here’s what it’s all about.

In 2013, ‘’ (now Free Basics) was just a twinkle in Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s eye. His vision was to use mobile phones to bring free internet access to 4.5 billion unconnected people worldwide – that’s two thirds of the world’s population.

Our clients, BabyCenter, were keen to get on board. As founder partners they wanted to use Facebook technology to bring life-saving maternal health messages to women worldwide. That’s where we came in.

BabyCenter asked Thrive to use our expertise in content and technology to create and deliver the information that women in low-resource settings so desperately need. We jumped at the challenge.

Since then, we’ve created and localised 130 healthcare articles for 105 countries into 28 languages.

In production terms, that’s meant becoming Facebook authorised Free Basics developers, and managing 12,000 articles on evolving content management systems.

Our content is now live in 29 countries across four continents. And that number is growing each month.

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Free Basics, mHealth and Thrive

We’ve really delivered on Free Basics. It’s powerful content that’s meaningful for women wherever they live. There is no doubt that our content, delivered through easy-to-navigate sites, is saving lives. We see more than 11 million sessions a month, with well over 8 million users and more than 40 million page views.

To see the real impact of our content and the potential of Free Basics, look at how we responded to the Zika crisis.

BabyCenter, Zika and Free Basics

When the World Health Organisation declared Zika a public health emergency in February 2016, we agreed with BabyCenter to add bespoke content to all relevant sites, both in English, and in Spanish in Latin America. Within two weeks we had researched, developed, translated and published a series of clearly written, easily actionable, practical information about the Zika virus and microcephaly.

Through us, BabyCenter was the first Facebook partner to publish bespoke information on the Zika virus on Free Basics. The response from users was unprecedented.

As soon as the content was live, our metrics spiked all over the world. In Latin America, over the next three months we saw:

  • Zika articles were in the Top 10 pages viewed for every Latin American site – Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru
  • The overall number of sessions tripled (336% increase)
  • An increase of 58% more pages/session on sites
  • Nearly 6 times as many page views (591% increase) compared to the previous 3-month period

Working with the unstoppable team here at Thrive, BabyCenter and Facebook, we are proud to be doing that every day, sometimes in languages we’ve never even heard of!