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Starbucks has always aspired to be the quintessential “third place,” giving people another place to settle in apart from home and work. During the company’s annual meeting with shareholders this morning, executives talked frequently about the company’s role in the “fourth place” — a.k.a. the digital world. Some of the stats rattled off during the presentations this morning …

That last stat inspired the slide below, with Starbucks exec Chris Bruzzo explaining that the company has beaten Kevin Bacon at his own game, at least on Facebook.

So what are the implications of all this social media power? “We’ve created in this model a much less expensive than traditional media approach to connecting with and marketing to customers,” Bruzzo told the crowd. “We drive traffic not only into our stores, but to other (consumer packaged goods) channels, as well, and we’re building loyalty along the way.”

Of course, the other place where Starbucks is becoming more of a technology company is in its stores, through the Starbucks Digital Network, enabled by the free wifi that the company rolled out earlier this year. That whole in-store network infrastructure is still in its early stages, and it should be interesting to see how Starbucks capitalizes on it over the next few years.

Previously: Starbucks Network adds ESPN, Economist, Marvel

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