A Taiwan-Made Video Widely Shared in Kosovo
"Dive in, not just pour in" is the motto upheld by digital diplomacy advocates. While Taiwan has long been used to "buying" diplomatic relations, can digital diplomacy open a new prospect for Taiwan's long suppressed diplomatic status?
A Taiwan-Made Video Widely Shared in KosovoBy Chiayo Kuo
What comes in your mind when you think of a branding video of Taiwan? Perhaps long shots of magnificent landscapes, or close-ups of celebrities waving their hands to the camera with a smile saying “Welcome to Taiwan.”
No matter what, you might never believe that a branding video filmed in three offices would go viral on social media in Kosovo, receiving feedbacks like “Thank you Taiwan,” “Amazing!” “It's a must-see.”
‘Even My Mother Shared It’
This “Taiwan supports Kosovo” video I filmed with my friends last month (Feb.) featured about 40 Taiwanese, holding a sign in Albanian saying “I am from Taiwan. I support Kosovo to have their own domain.”
A decade has passed since Kosovo’s independence. Yet the country still does not have its own domain (.ks). All domestic websites can only end with .com or .net. This has been quite bothering for many Kosovars, since not having its own domain was like not being recognized as an independent country in the Internet world.
Last month, at the ten-year anniversary of Kosovo’s independence, we invited some friends in Taiwan to echo this issue in a supportive video we later promoted on Kosovo’s social media. It turned out to hit 31 thousand views and 42 thousand reaches in the nation with a population of 1.8 million. In “Young People in Kosovo,” the largest Facebook group of the locals, a shared post of the video received 103 likes so far, an unprecedented number for the group.
A shared post of the video in Young People in Kosovo received 103 likes, an unprecedented number for the group of 5,000 members (Image: Chiayo Kuo)
My couch-surfing host told me that a German and American friend of his shared this video to him nearly at the same time, saying that they found this Asian video interesting. Another time, I met a friend, who brought up this video as soon as he learned that I was from Taiwan, telling me that it was not until he heard about the plan of the video did he notice about Taiwan’s diplomatic dilemma, which rendered him feeling connected to us. “Even my mother shared it!” My friend Rrezon said to me with a smile.
'Dive In, Not Just Pour In'
How could this video achieve such resounding popularity? Besides the novelty of Asians holding signs in Albanian, I think the main reason lies in its topicality and responsiveness. Given this video, a Kosovar would no longer see Taiwanese as strangers from a faraway small island in the East, but friends to reach for, and to share opinions with on local social issues.
You don’t need fancy shooting, because people are the most emotion-provoking element for a natural, sincere video. With a certain number of people and their heartfelt smiles, the warmth of “support from overseas” can be perceived by anyone who watches the video.
Taiwan has long been used to buying diplomatic relations, or holding “Taiwanese cultural festivals” abroad. Indeed, approaches of such do work to some degree, yet neither can they leave anything impressive, nor build a genuine relationship.
Digital diplomacy upholds the motto: “Dive in, not just pour in.” By definition, it is the use of social media as a platform to communicate with local communities on public issues, to spark and exchange new ideas, and to develop mutual support through actual interactions.
A Kosovar would no longer see Taiwanese as strangers from a faraway small island in the East (Image: Chiayo Kuo)
To Validate Taiwan’s Position in the World
To realize the objective of digital diplomacy, my friends and I aimed at the topic that would best resonate with the people in Taiwan and Kosovo—national domain. Last year in September, we set up a fan page Domain for Kosovo, where we occasionally place information about Taiwan.
This placement is not directly advertising Taiwan, but shaping an impression in the hearts of Kosovars that “Taiwan supports you the most.” To achieve this, social media platforms play a crucial role. In conduct of digital diplomacy, a platform accessible to the locals would be much needed so that can advertisements and observations can be made. Since the topic was closely related to them, we soon attracted a few local youths to run the page with us, some of whom took the initiative to share the page with other platforms which were only known by the locals.
After successfully involving the locals to our social media group, our mission was to create correct timings to place information about Taiwan, and observe audience behavior to optimize the effectiveness of each placement. It took us months of observation before we decided to keep this video simple, involving no more than a sign written in Albanian. Nevertheless, the video clearly conveys the message: “As we are both struggling for international recognition, Taiwan strongly supports Kosovo to fight for its own national domain.” Thanks to the topicality of the issue, it attracts the attention of the locals, and thanks to Taiwan's current diplomatic situation, it creates a sense of comradery.
This video was merely our first experiment. In April, we plan to release another “Taiwan sponsored” video along with a Cliff notes of this issue to share with countries surrounding Kosovo that either share the same language, or have a close connection, or care about similar societal issues. Moving on, we will extend this digital sovereignty issue from online to offline, by holding a digitally interactive exhibition in the National Museum of Kosovo, where designers from Taiwan will collaborate with young Kosovars. Though the exhibition is still in the preliminary stage of fundraising, we will be sure to raise recognition of Taiwan through the advertising of the exhibition.
A Capture from the video (Image: Chiayo Kuo)
Let the Voice of Taiwan Be Heard by the Globe
In 2018, when the Beijing government continues to suppress Taiwan’s diplomatic space, I think digital diplomacy should be considered one of the crucial means of letting the voice of Taiwan be heard by the world.
Communicating with the locals of other countries has never been in the focus of Taiwan’s diplomatic policy. However, the wide network that these locals can connect you with is a treasure yet to be fully explored. Besides, with the help of social media, we get to communicate and engage with locals overseas without spending billions as we used to do through political exchanges.
We’ve merely spent NTD$1,100 on this video but reached to an audience of over 42,000, which means to let one Kosovar know about Taiwan, it takes no more than NTD$0.02.The video has hit over 31 thousand views and reached to an audience of over 42 thousand (Image: Chiayo Kuo)
In Taiwan, given its robust digital content industry, digital diplomacy should be the most accessible means for public and youth diplomacy. Once the Taiwanese government consents to invest in this concept, to encourage youths in Taiwan to join in pubic campaigns around the world and to run social media groups for local communities overseas with some proper Taiwan placement, not only the impression of Taiwan will be strengthened in the hearts of those overseas, but also the position of Taiwan in the global stage.
We believe that our first experiment may pave way to a new diplomatic future for Taiwan.
Translated by Sharon Tseng.
Crossing features more than 200 (still increasing) Taiwanese new generation from over 110 cities around the globe. They have no fancy rhetoric and sophisticated knowledge, just genuine views and sincere narratives. They are simply our friends who happen to stay abroad, generously and naturally sharing their stories, experience and perspectives. See also CrossingNYC.
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