Must Win Battles in communications and social media


Simply explained Must Win Battles is a tool to develop strategy and implement it in companies and organizations. At the same time, it also works as a tool for managers to engage and motivate employees to take the same path towards the most important goals.

Must Win Battles is a term from management theory that was first coined around 2005. Since then it has been used as a tool for developing strategies for everything from business strategy to strategies for different projects and targeted actions – and more recently also communications.

Must Win Battles (MWB) is a very useful tool for anyone working in communications as it helps you prioritize among both your daily communications tasks and your overall goals.

As a consultant I use the tool to help companies and organizations to set clear goals for the strategic work in both the overall communications strategies, strategies for each communications channel and social media strategy – and in this process it is important to keep in mind that using MWB is also about choosing what not to do.


What is the most important goal you should set for your communications?

Your MWBs should describe – as the name suggests – which battles are the most important ones for you to win over time. That is why it is important that the Must Win Battles you choose are tightly linked to essential areas of business for you. That could be anything from market shares and reputation to positioning and influence. Your MWBs should always be selected on the basis of an analysis of your biggest challenges, which could be a loss of market shares, bad reputation or declining member satisfaction.

When you set Must Win Battles for your communications you are also determining that certain tasks are more important than others. That sounds simple enough but most communicators know that in a busy work day, where things to be done keep coming at you, it can be difficult to keep your eye on which are the most important ones – and that is exactly where Must Win Battles can help you.

Since your MWBs point their finger at the most important challenges, you should choose only a few so it is manageable to prioritize them on both a day to day basis and in the long run. I usually recommend for companies and organizations to select 3-5 Must Win Battles – and rather 3 than 5.


Must Win Battles can create commitment and inspire to stay with the projects

What is particularly great about using the MWB method in communications strategy is that it creates a common goal within organizations and communications departments and an increased focus on the importance of overall communication in achieving business goals.

If you as a communications manager succeed in creating a sense of ownership in the employee and set clear goals for the most important battles, it can lead to increased commitment, motivation and benefit the overall effort.

In order to achieve the best foundation for working with Must Win Battles it is important to involve the top management of your organization. The reason for this is that the goals you set – whether it is for the overall communications strategy or a social media strategy – should be tied to the most important goals of the organization, so you need the support of the management in your choice of the 3-5 MWBs. That way you ensure legitimacy and support from the management if your priorities are later questioned or challenged.


How to choose Must Win Battles for social media

Must Win Battles can be used for a wide variety of strategies and depending on where in the hierarchy of strategies we are, your MWBs must be targeted those specific areas or different kinds of communications used for that particular channel. It often makes good sense, when working with social media strategy, to use MWBs to pinpoint what exactly it is that your organization wants to convey via social media.

Social media is a great channel that can be used in all sorts of ways, but there are also limits to what you can achieve here, and that is why it is so important to match the most important goals of your organization with what social media does best. That way you gain the most value and get the results you seek from your efforts on social media.

Different MBWs for social media could be: ‘We want to engage in dialogue with our customers and make sure they have access to us on social media in order to strengthen our availability’ or ‘We want to shape the public debate in our field on a daily basis’

When your Must Win Battles have been decided upon, it is time for more tactic considerations concerning how your battles are to be won. Do we need to strengthen our Facebook team, if we want to engage in more dialogue? Does it demand stronger managers and thought leaders on LinkedIn and Twitter, if we want to shape the debate?

Create a plan so everyone involved has the goal in sight and set a time frame so you can evaluate how far you are from winning your Must Win Battles. That way the method helps strengthen focus on which resources, channels of communication and skills are needed for you to succeed.




Troels Johannesen is a Danish communications advisor and expert in social media. Based in Copenhagen he helps companies, organizations and CEOs use and understand social media in communication and thought leadership.

He is the author of several books on CEOs on social media including How To Become A Social CEO

Troels Johannesen can be booked for key notes and workshops on the role of the CEOs on social media.


+45 31319065


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