Facebook rolls out seasonal greetings at the top of the News Feed

Facebook’s News Feed is getting a little more colorful today. Its “Goodwill” team — which is behind efforts like Friends Day and various messages at the top of the feed, including the recently added Weather greetings — is now rolling out new animations to denote the changing seasons. Starting today, people may begin to see an animated message with birds or butterflies denoting the first day of spring, if they’re in the Northern Hemisphere, or an animation of falling leaves, if in the Southern Hemisphere.

The animations will only appear on mobile devices, including both iOS and Android.

The animations were designed by Facebook’s internal team of artists and illustrators using cut paper, vector-based graphics and motion, the company says. They serve no other purpose beyond announcing the vernal or autumnal equinox, depending on which hemisphere you live in, except for making the News Feed a bit more cheery and giving users something to share.

The larger goal of the Goodwill team is to create an environment on Facebook where people are “moved to express their feelings and connect with things that matter,” Facebook has explained in the past. That includes experiences like birthdays, anniversary videos and the “On This Day” feature, in addition to the messages that pop up at the top of the News Feed and other events that people are interested in sharing.

The idea is to prompt users to click on the new greetings, which will trigger a Facebook post you can edit with your own message and content. The post will read you’re “welcoming spring” (or fall), and will include the larger seasonal graphic as part of the post.

This may seem like a minor feature, but it’s part of a larger agenda to boost personal sharing on the network. According to reports from The Information and Bloomberg last year, people are sharing fewer personal posts with their friends on the social network, at a time when other apps like Snapchat and Instagram are expanding their reach.

The Information said original sharing had dropped by 15 percent from the prior year, and Facebook specifically formed an internal team to improve this metric. (Facebook disputes this, saying that’s not “entirely the case.”)

These News Feed greetings have become more a part of the Facebook experience in recent months, thanks to informational messages about the day’s weather, which helps Facebook replace yet another regular destination on users’ phones — their preferred weather application.