The Meaning of Like: How Social-Media Editors and Users Make Sense of Social Media Engagement

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


News organizations today rely on various metrics to assess users’ engagement with news. Focusing on social media engagement metrics, the present study argues that their non-proprietary nature sets them apart from other measurement systems. These metrics were introduced to invoke social activities on social media platforms among users. Therefore, they serve as a unique case in which both users and social media editors are obliged to take part in the same interpretive process. Based on 117 semi-structured interviews with Israeli users, and 18 interviews with Israeli social-media editors, the study outlines the reciprocal interactions between these two stakeholders that shape news dissemination on social media. In particular, the study discusses how users and editors assign meaning to social media engagement metrics, based on the social rules that govern news sharing on these platforms. It also finds that, editors are fully aware of users’ “social rules” of engagement, and try to harness them to advance the revenues they obtain from their social media activities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournalism Practice
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • affordances
  • audience metrics
  • editorial processes
  • news engagement
  • news engagement
  • Social media

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication


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