For the final 11 days of 2011, we’re going to take a look at some of the top mistakes made this year in our industry… including social media, marketing, branding, graphic design, web design and SEO.

#10-United Airlines has no comprehension of sarcasm

Earlier this year United Airlines failed to understand clear sarcasm in a tweet from a user who had been complaining about her flight being canceled. (We’re just going to assume they didn’t understand and weren’t trying to be obnoxious.)

Here’s a recap of Mena’s tweets:

“Thanks @unitedairlines for randomly canceling my miles booked ticket for tonight, taking the miles & not letting me rebook for lack of miles”

No response from United.

“And then hanging up on me after I waited for an hour! I hate you @unitedairlines”

Still no response from United.

“Apparently the automated voice recognition system can’t tell what I’m saying through my tears @unitedairlines #IhateYouSoMuch”

Again no response.

“Thanks to @unitedairlines I can finally watch that Frasier episode I missed in 1994.”

This time someone manning the United Airlines twitter account answered back: “…I hear the blues a-callin’, Tossed salad and scrambled eggs..” (for those unfamiliar, that’s part of the Frasier theme song)

Now there’s a time to use humor and there is a time to just apologize and try to make it right. When a customer is clearly upset, it’s not time to rub their nose in it! United Airlines clearly missed the mark on this one. This blog gives more detail about the situation and gives an excellent case study for a different company that had a great social media response.