Social Bites: Nicole Mojan Pirshafiey (Disney, Star Wars, E!)

Nicole Mojan Pirshafiey


What’s your name?

Nicole Mojan Pirshafiey

What major social media account(s) do you (or did you) manage?

@enews (2013-2016) // @disney @pixar @starwars (2017-2022) // @paramountplus (current)

What was/is the best thing about managing these accounts?

@enews: Building out the social strategy and voice and formats from scratch was an incredible learning experience. (Before I joined, the Twitter account was automated and every editorial writer could post their own articles to the FB page!!!) Crafting a persona that truly resonated with the audience led to massive organic audience growth across all platforms and set the stage for an entire team to be built out. The community management piece of this brand’s strategy was so fun: creating a voice that was anchored in the perspective of “we’re your pop-culture obsessed BFF with access to all the VIP events and celebrities and we cannot wait to give you the hot goss” was a keystone of our success.

@disney/@pixar/@starwars: instant brand recognition and access to some of the most amazing stories and characters and franchises in the world! Building out a true four-quadrant audience with a content strategy that had a little something for everyone was a challenge, but an exciting one.

Every account: the people I worked with. There’s something incredible about every social team I’ve ever worked with, people who work in social are just a special brand of people.

@paramountplus: I’m just getting started!

What was the HARDEST thing about managing this account?

Disney approvals were as complicated as you can imagine. The more visibility that executives have into your strategy, the less innovative you can be. The reach is there because the audiences are global and massive, but you have to get really creative about how to create engaging content that isn’t completely safe and devoid of personality.

How do you think up your posts?

Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration. A good idea for a social post can come from anyone and anywhere! I encourage all internal partners to join brainstorms and pitch content ideas, and I also encourage my teams to unplug, go offline, and find inspiration in the real world.

Is there a long approval process for social content or are you trusted to pretty much do your own thing?

For one brand, I had no approvals—true carte blanche to define the brand voice in real time with no approvals or red tape to slow down the process. That had its downfalls though–when no one is signing off on your posts, no one can cover your ass if they blow up or kick off a PR thread (which happened more than once). For the more established brands, there is an intense, multilayered approval process. We would build out our content calendars with enough time to allow for all stakeholders to weigh in (sometimes 3 months in advance) which left no wiggle room for real time trending formats or brand moments, but also made the team SUPER intentional about our brand expression on social. Now, as social media teams have been fully established as an incredibly important and valuable extension of each brand and organization, the approval process is just part of the workflow and has to be expected and planned around.

What have some of your most popular posts been, and why do you think they struck such a chord?

I would have to double check, but I think this is the most retweeted post I ever individually crafted for a brand:

This was a PEAK 2013 internet moment: using a Mean Girls quote to live tweet the collective reaction to Miley’s VMAs performance (do today’s youths even know what that moment was? I’m a social dinosaur.) The fact that it was done in real time as we were all collectively losing our minds about that foam finger, using a line from a movie that millennials adored, definitely paid off. (Do I think it would land now? Absolutely not. Did it speak to the vibe of the times? For sure.)

What have some of your favorite posts been, even if they aren’t necessarily the ones that went “viral”?

I could do an entire TED talk about what went into this post. I’m so proud we were able to make this explicit statement as the result of a social-led demand for a response to a truly terrible situation.

This “Pixar Side by Side” series was one of my favorite campaigns my team put together. It’s a perfect overlap of the Pixar audience’s love of the technical aspects of cinema and animation, and one of the all-time most emotionally moving film scenes ever.

Our first @Disney TikTok! Our team repurposed a video that we shot at the parks that performed really well on Instagram, and it was the perfect raw, organic, day-in-the-life magic moments that was perfect for the first post on the platform. Hats off to my incredible Disney pod for making this a win across multiple platforms.

What do you wish you knew before you started managing this account that might have made things easier at the beginning?

Make connections across every line of business ASAP, you’ll be supporting all kinds of departments and campaigns on the platforms you manage and helping to forge connections, share best practices and insights, and guide the content that other teams send for posting is critical to making sure the accounts are all audience-first.

What’s your advice for someone starting out in social?

For finding a job:

What brands are crushing it on social? Do some LinkedIn/Twitter digging, find the brand managers, follow them and connect. I cannot stress enough how important networking is to get into social. Recruiters are incredible and they do the lord’s work, but the best hires I’ve made have been through my personal connections with people looking to get into the industry who have made an effort to reach out. Don’t do any of that “can I pick your brain stuff”–follow them, engage with their content, and make an organic connection so that when they’re hiring, you’re already on their radar.

What kind of job to find:

Let go of the idea of working for your “dream brand” that you’re a fan of. It’s easy to give too much to a job that becomes part of your identity, and in social media you can easily give 24/7/365 because the work never stops. You have to create your own boundaries with work, and it’s much easier to do that when you’re working for a brand that you admire and value, but not one that is your HOLY GRAIL brand. Look for a brand that has a culture that fits your lifestyle, not just a prestigious name that looks good in your Twitter bio.

Great info here! OMG - love how she talks about setting boundaries - we need MORE of those in this social media industry. Great insights on getting hired as well. Excellent read. :slight_smile:

1 Like

I love how literally EVERYONE answers those last two questions pretty much the same:
SMMs need to watch their boundaries and take care of themselves, and brand managers need to trust their SMMs!
I’ll always include those answers, though, because it never hurts to state them over and over!!!