Last year, Facebook put in place rules that restricted the ability of marketers to use the world’s most popular social network to run promotions and sweepstakes. These restrictions were largely a disappointment to the Facebook marketers who were aware of them, and a risk to those who weren’t.

But this week, marketers received good news: Facebook has apparently decided to relax its restrictions.

On Monday, AllFacebook published an email reportedly sent from a Facebook sales representative. It states, in part:

We have some exciting updates regarding the administration of Promotions, Sweepstakes and Contests on Facebook that will help to streamline the process and make your lives a bit easier:

  1. We no longer require prior written Facebook approval to administer a promotion on Facebook.
  2. We no longer require a minimum media spend investment to support the promotion.

This means that you are not required to have a media campaign on Facebook to run a promotion, nor do you need to ask for approval on the contest T&Cs from the Facebook team.

There are probably a number of reasons for the change of heart. Not only were Facebook’s rules tough to enforce, they kept brands from engaging with Facebook users in ways that will, in most cases, improve the Facebook experience. Obviously, Facebook has reason to worry about legal issues that might arise from unsupervised marketer activity on its site, but putting itself in the position of reviewing third party promotions and sweepstakes probably created an equal number of legal issues.

The unanswered question, of course, is if and how Facebook will try to insert itself into promotions and sweepstakes on its platform. Although it’s making a mint from self-serve ads, there’s a good chance that greater opportunities lie in the kind of marketing activity that Facebook isn’t currently involved with. For instance, retailers are increasingly experimenting with ‘f-commerce‘. Already, we’ve seen Facebook move aggressively to take a big piece of the virtual currency market that has developed around Facebook games with Facebook Credits, and it recently launched its own location-based deals offering.

While an offering around promotions and sweepstakes might be a challenge to build, and may not be the most enticing opportunity, don’t be surprised if Facebook eventually does something in this area.

Photo credit: Global X via Flickr.