The study and its findings come with no surprise to me and I am guessing David will feel the same way.
Simply put, the Facebook Data team revealed evidence that there is a correlation between the choice of words and the number of facebook friends, a correlation between age and choice of words and that we talk about different things depending on the hour of the day. Also, there is a link between what we write about and what our friends write about.
Back in 2009 I was in Cape Verde, sitting in front of the computer and crunching numbers and words “by hand”, these were taken from hundreds of blogs and eventually turned into a proof of concept presented at Bledcom. Later this research became the dissertation for my MA Degree.
The main difference is that the Facebook team used a technique called Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count, while I used a Latent Semantic Analysis tool. But in their essence the findings are the same, we form relationships based on a match of Values Systems, either at a personal or a group level, and we express these Values through our actions.
What is missing from the article on the Facebook Data page is Context. We use different channels of communications with different purposes and objectives in mind. This was pointed out by Edward Moyer on cnet when he wrote:
according to the data team’s results, the Facebookers with many friends tend to use fewer “emotional words” than do members with less friends. I’m not sure this means that people flock to those who are unemotional; it could just as easily mean that people who tend to form deeper, more-emotional relationships use Facebook in a different way (or not at all)–i.e., that “popular” Facebookers, with more “friends,” form shallow connections, or indeed, that the Facebook platform itself, as Zadie Smith recently suggested in The New York Review of Books, encourages shallowness
What does this mean for business? Less marketing and more PR.