Rep. Anthony Weiner’s fatally flawed Tweets to his lady friend[s] have fueled comic relief for a few weeks now while ending his career as a congressman, but how he actually sent  a message meant for private viewing over the world’s biggest instant-publishing medium has likely left more people puzzled than amused.

That’s because only 13% of online adults use Twitter, according to a May report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.  That’s a higher number than Pew noted in November 2010 when it found 9% of online adults were using Twitter. In May, Pew also found a high rate of adoption among African Americans and Latinos, and the numbers doubling among the 25-to-34 year old age group. But as you can see the numbers are steadily rising.

I love Twitter and most journalists and information junkies I know do. But I can understand why the typical small-business person might wonder what’s in Twitter for them other than one more thing to do.

I first spotted Twitter on a blog for a Silicon Valley marketing maven. I thought, “Oh this is ridiculous!” But still I signed up but didn’t use it much. That was probably in 2007 and I used a pseudonym because of privacy concerns.

Twitter didn’t really come together for me until I discovered  Tweetdeck, which allowed me to divide up the feed of Tweets from  people I was interested in by following #hashtags.

What you see in this video of the Egypt #Jan25 hashtag — when the protests began — is the first few tweets and then how they multiply as they are tweeted and retweeted — passed on by other observers —and more people join the communications stream.  The  multiplier effect of Twitter, where one message is picked up and spread exponentially, is dramatic. and also makes Twitter promising for business use. This much simpler movie is what my Tweetdeck looked like the day #Jan25 #Egypt broke with the information moving very quickly down the middle column.

Today, the Twitter interface itself is much more useful and we have many tools to make Twitter simpler and more effective. Of course, the social Web is evolving so rapidly we don’t know exactly what the future will bring, but we do know that for place-based businesses,  tools like Four Square, QR codes and Twitter are promising for attracting customers and building a community.

But still, what to do about the time it takes? The principles of Twitter take time to learn initially. But once you know them, a tool like Twitter for Busy People can save you time and connect you efficiently with customers.

T4BP has an intuitive interface that lets you pop in and see what your friends have tweeted in the past hour, shown in the featured image above.

If you are a smaller neighborhood business, T4BP has a game that might help you place a name with a face, an added way to get to know your customers better.

Don’t Tweet the results if you score as poorly as I did in my sample. Wait until you get it right.

If you decide to dip into the Twitterverse you’ll find plenty of advice for keeping your Tweets clean and productive, It’s pretty simple: don’t say anything on Twitter you wouldn’t say to your mother, your kids,  your boss or your employees. In other words, be polite and you’ll do just fine.