On September 30th, Google will finally shut down Orkut, the social network it launched in 2004. Google’s first foray into social media never caught on in North America, but Orkut gained a faithful following in Brazil and India, where it remained a formidable competitor long after Mark Zuckerberg conquered the rest of the world.

Today, Google, Facebook and YouTube dominate global web-traffic rankings, totalling billions of hits daily, but beyond the big three, there are still hundreds of regionally successful web services, many of which look a bit like the ones we know and use every day. If you’re looking to hawk products in Latin America or connect with consumers in Asia, you’ll need to get familiar with these sites and apps, which dominate segments from search to sales in overseas markets.

MercadoLibre (the eBay of Latin America)

Independent merchants did $7.3 billion in business using MercadoLibre last year. EBay owns an 18% stake in the Buenos Aires–based firm, causing many to assume the retailer will buy up the rest as it moves into the Latin American market.

  • MercadoLibre: 99.5 million users
  • eBay: 152.5 million users

* * * * * (the Google of Russia) claims its various sites and services reach 96% of Russia’s Internet users and a sizable chunk of its neighbouring former Soviet republics. The company also owns a stake in VKontakte, Russia’s answer to Facebook.

  • 100 million active email accounts
  • Gmail: 500 million active email accounts

* * * * *

M-Pesa (the Tangerine of Kenya)

A quarter of Kenya’s GDP flows through M-Pesa, the mobile banking service run by telecom company Safaricom. Users can visit one of 86,000 agents to make deposits and withdrawals, and track their transactions on the most basic of mobile devices.

  • M-Pesa: 17 million users
  • Tangerine: 2 million users

* * * * *

Dailymotion (the YouTube of South Asia)

Backed by French telecom giant Orange, Dailymotion hosts everything from cat videos to full-length Indian reality shows. Last year, the French government vetoed Yahoo’s $300-million bid for a 75% stake in the company.

  • Dailymotion: 120 million monthly visitors
  • YouTube: 1 billion monthly visitors

Read: Make Your Business a YouTube Star

* * * * *

Line (the WhatsApp of Japan)

The Line messaging app, the brainchild of Japanese engineers at South Korea’s Naver Corporation, made $10 million a month last year selling in-app stickers and graphics that users send to friends. A planned IPO would value a spun-off Line at $20 billion.

  • Line: 175 million active monthly users
  • What’sApp: 465 million active monthly users

* * * * *

GrabTaxi (the Uber of Southeast Asia)

GrabTaxi has the second-largest fleet of taxis in Singapore. It’s in regional hubs like Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, too. Unlike Uber, it avoids tussles with industry lobbies and regulators by working within the existing taxi framework.

  • GrabTaxi: 250,000 active monthly users
  • Uber: 450,000 active monthly users

Read: Why Uber Has a Marketing Problem

* * * * * (the Amazon of India)

Flipkart’s co-founders are ex-Amazoners, and their service, with its cash-on-delivery and instalment payment options, is tailored to a country with an expanding middle class but low credit card penetration. In 2013, Flipkart trounced Amazon in India with $1 billion in sales.

  • 5 million active users
  • Amazon: 244 million active users

* * * * *

Badoo (the of South America)

Though its offices are based in London, Badoo’s reach is global: The service is available in 44 languages across 191 countries. Badoo recently relaunched early 2000s sensation Hot or Not as an app, expanding its reach to the all-important mobile market.

  • Badoo: 45 million active monthly users
  • 7 million active monthly users

Read: Smart Ways to Use Technology to Build Your Business

This article is from the PROFIT section of the September 2014 issue of Canadian Business. Subscribe now!

Have you tried using any of these platforms to promote your product or service? Have you had any success? Share your thoughts by commenting below.

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