LAFAYETTE — The state hopes to capitalize on teenagers’ social media skills to drum up “twaffic” and “friends” for its 2012 bicentennial celebration.

A statewide competition: “Louisiana Business Challenge, Tourism in Louisiana” seeks to use high school students’ expertise in social media — such as Twitter and Facebook — to market the state’s locales and traditions.

The competition was developed by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Moody College of Business Administration in partnership with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office and the Bicentennial Commission.

The Bicentennial Celebration Day is April 30, 2012.

A “jubilee” year of tourism is expected when tourists from across the globe journey to learn more about the state’s diverse cultural history, said Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who attended the competition’s launch Monday.

The competition will help attract those who use social media rather than traditional advertising in making travel plans, Dardenne said.

“It’s a wonderful concept that opens up a new avenue for us to reach people in the decision-making mode,” Dardenne said.

As part of the competition, high school teams of two to four students must devise a promotional campaign for an area of interest in their parish or the state that does not use traditional paid forms of advertising.

The students will compete in regional contests in February with the final competition held on the ULL campus March 8-9.

Students can win prizes and scholarships and their work will be featured on the state’s tourism website.

“This is an exciting opportunity to invigorate our young people and introduce them to a real business opportunity in Louisiana,” Dardenne said.

The challenge emphasizes tourism as a “business” for a reason, Dardenne said.

The tourism industry is a major economic driver for the state with one in every 10 people who call Louisiana home working in tourism, he said.

The competition provides an opportunity for young people to promote the state’s culture and what makes their own town or region unique, Dardenne said.

The competition is a “win-win” for the Louisiana because as students learn more about the state as they develop their promotional projects, their work will help educate others, sULL President Joseph Savoie said.

As of early Monday afternoon, at least nine teams have signed up for the competition, Dardenne said.

The deadline to register is Oct. 30. For information or to register, visit: