The list of the top 100 most influential people on Twitter, compiled by the Independent and i newspapers is mostly dominated by celebrities and entertainment stars but puts Branson ahead of Jamie Oliver, Derren Brown and Ricky Gervais.

In joint second are Alan Carr, who has 2 million Twitter followers, and Sarah Brown, wife of former prime minister Gordon Brown, with 1.1 million followers.

Joint fourth was held by Ricky Gervais, Rob Brydon, Chris Moyles and Jamie Oliver. Then in at eighth was Eddie Izzard, followed by Derren Brown at ninth and joint tenth was Jack Wilshire, James Corden and Stephen Fry.

Journalists and media figures take up a third of the top 100 list.

Last year’s top ten included less well known but equally influential names like fashion journalist Hilary Alexander, business blogger Umair Haque and media entrepreneur Zee M Kane.

The list was based on an analysis of who holds power and influence on twitter, based not just on followers but on content, how they respond to other Twitter users and how many re-tweets they receive.

Twitter recently announced that it had passed 500 million users worldwide, although only 100 million are said to be “active” users.