Facebook Appointments: Scheduling with Multiple Calendars

Schedule Facebook Appointments with multiple calendars

Appointments on Facebook is an online scheduling tool that lets customers book time with a Facebook business page like yours. Designed for solo consultants and small companies, the app asks you to define a weekly schedule, and in turn, provides you with a single calendar to manage your appointments. But many companies have more than one person on staff that can be booked. Each person has their own email calendar and may have unique availability as well.

To support multiple schedules and calendars, you will need to link your Book Now button to a third-party scheduling app like Appointlet. Once the scheduling app is connected, you can manage your meetings outside of Facebook, while retaining the call to action on your business page.

Understanding Appointments on Facebook

Built-in Appointments on Facebook Calendar
Facebook’s Appointment calendar in an empty state, prior to receiving bookings

The phrase Appointments on Facebook refers to the in-app calendar scheduling solution that they offer, as shown in the screenshot above. In contrast, the Book Now button on your Facebook business page is autonomous and can be linked to any off-site scheduling app.

To understand the value of linking to a third-party scheduling app, we’ll start by taking a look at what you do get from Appointments for Facebook. We’ve put together a collection of features and limitations that currently exist, so you have better visibility and can make an informed decision when you evaluate alternatives.

Main features of Appointments on Facebook:

  • Built-in calendar for management of scheduled meetings
  • Built-in advertising platform to promote booking page
  • Direct link to booking page
  • Google Calendar integration
  • One reminder on the day before meeting (via facebook messenger)
  • Option to send a follow up invite message for another booking
  • Options to allow double booking and require manual confirmation
  • Payment collection that connects to your existing billing account
  • Instagram integration (Get appointments from IG)
  • Control how far in advance people can book with you

A small business with a single point of contact can get a lot of value from these features. If you only need one calendar for your business page, the in-app solution may be a quick and convenient solution.

That being said, there are known limitations with the in-app scheduler that will be problematic for companies with more than one calendar to support. Some of the missing features, like web conferencing and rescheduling, become more significant as companies grow in size and scheduling volume.

Limitations of Appointments on Facebook:

  • Only one recurring schedule offered. Cannot create multiple custom schedules, based on your changing availability.
  • Only one calendar / bookable team member supported
  • No custom forms for data collection
  • No web conference integration
  • No rescheduling feature (cancel only)
  • No Outlook / Office 365 integration
  • No pre-meeting buffers
  • No control over time zone settings (locked / detect)
  • No embed script for sharing a book now button on other websites

Fortunately, all of these missing features are supported by third party scheduling apps. Once you’ve set up Appointlet and linked it to your Facebook business page, you will have access to a full feature set and retain the book now button functionality.

How to link to Appointlet

Facebook presents two alternatives to the built-in Appointments app. These are presented during the setup wizard, when you’re creating your Book Now button. You can either Connect Another Tool or Link to Website.

Configure your Book Now button on Facebook
Select from one of three Appointment Scheduling solutions

You don’t want to select the Connect Another Tool option, which leads users to a menu of third-party scheduling apps. Their purpose of this option is to augment the existing functionality of Appointments on Facebook with a direct integration to service providers that a business may already have been using.

The downside to using the Connect Another Tool feature is that you’ll remain limited to a single calendar and single schedule. Most of the missing features previously outlined remain unaddressed with the Connect Another Tool option.

Instead, you can select the Link to Website option and provide your booking page url, as shown below:

Link to your Appointlet Booking Page
For multiple calendars, Link to Website and plug in your booking page URL

All you have to do is copy your Appointlet URL and paste it into this field. Hit save and you’re done — this book now button will drive facebook traffic to your company’s booking page.

How customers will use your Book Now button

Book Now button on a Facebook Business Page
The Book Now button sits at the top of your business page

Wondering what will happen when customers click on a Book Now button that’s linked to a third-party scheduling app? In the screenshot below you can see an example of an Appointlet booking page hosted by a consultancy. The scheduler is responsive for desktop and mobile, with a step-by-step interface that makes it easy for anyone to use.

Schedule meetings online with a booking page from Appointlet
Appointlet’s online scheduling tool (what people see when they click the book now button)

When people land on your booking page, you can present them with options to select specific services and members before picking a time. If your audience doesn’t have a preference on who they book with, you can assign meetings to your team in a round-robin fashion. You’ll get close to an even distribution of bookings across the team, as is common for sales and support staff.

Once the attendee has selected a time and completed the booking form, both parties will receive a confirmation email with all of the booking details. They will also get an .ICS file that loads directly into their email calendar, so they don’t have to type the details out themselves. Unlike Facebook’s native feature, you can schedule multiple reminder emails to keep people aware of the booking as it approaches.

Manage your team calendars effectively

Integrate with Google Calendar or Office 365 Calendar
Each staff member will connect their own calendar to the third party app

The concept of “multiple calendars” will change depending on which third party solution you choose. Generally speaking, admins will create a unique entity for each staff member and configure their availability to match the person’s schedule. To save that staff member’s profile, an email calendar account will be connected in order to read existing busy events and write new events as bookings come in. Once each staff member’s email calendar and availability are configured, you can manage their bookings from a dashboard.

When customers book a time with you through Facebook, they will be taken to the third-party scheduling app and pick a time that works for them. These bookings flow directly into the team member’s personal calendar. If that’s a Google calendar, for example, the team member can open up their calendar view at any time to see their events. Administrators who want to manage multiple calendars with one top-level email calendar account also have that option.

The Booking Dashboard: How to manage meetings across your team

Review your booking details from the Appointlet dashboard
Once your bookings come in, they can be managed from the dashboard

With your team set up and the booking page connected to Facebook, you will start seeing meetings come in through your business page. As that happens, the booking details will be accessible through a booking dashboard like the one shown above. You can use filter tools to limit the date range, team members, and meeting types that you want to look at. In this way, it becomes much easier to manage not only the calendar integrations, but the actual bookings as well.

Appointments on Facebook does not provide a dashboard of this kind because they only support one calendar. This means that the calendar itself functions as a dashboard. With multiple team members, this format will not scale well. You need a dedicated interface to review your bookings and interact with them.

The best part of having a booking dashboard is that administrators gain a high level view of the company agenda in list format. If you have ever tried scheduling manually with a team calendar, it can get very messy and cluttered as events pile up. The vertical list format with search filters solves this problem without disposing of the email calendar.

Bonus: Advertising your appointments on Facebook

Whether you decide to go with Appointments on Facebook or link to a third party app like Appointlet, any business can take out advertisements on their book now button to schedule more appointments.

Taking out advertisements on Facebook business page posts

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. If you really want to drive people to your meetings page, it’s not a bad idea to invest in promoting your call to action button with ads. Facebook can leverage all of its internal data to make sure that you reach the right people on their platform. Just create a new advertised post and set your call-to-action to Book Now. When the post goes live, that button will be included.

When creating a post with a call to action, it’s important to keep your audience in mind. Try to identify a single core problem that your company solves and decide how can you communicate your offer to solve it. With an engaging tagline and a call to action, your advertisements have a much better chance of attracting the right clients.

Want more ideas on how to promote your online scheduler with social media? Check out this recent article on Twitter marketing tips for better client scheduling.

 

Ezra Sandzer-Bell