Instagram is basically human interaction distilled down to square image and video form.
I want you to imagine that you just moved to a new city where you don’t know a soul. You can sit in your house, look out your window, go shopping once a week, take your dog for a walk, keep your head down, watch what’s going on, and before long… you still won’t know anyone.
So if you want to make more friends, you need to be more friendly. That means having something to say (your posts and stories) in a way that’s compelling, interesting, inspiring, educational, whatever. And it means joining conversations in a meaningful way.
If you’re smart, teach people stuff.
If you’re funny, make them laugh.
If you’re uplifting, inspire them.
And then just like you would in any interpersonal relationship, ask questions, give feedback, respond when people ask you questions, and join conversations already taking place (by using relevant hashtags to find posts with high engagement and jumping into those conversations).
Last, you have to keep showing up. Show people you’re dependable. They can count on you to be where you said you’d be. If you drop off the face of the earth, you drop out of the conversation in their mind. They stop looking for you.
In terms of actual execution, plan your posts out, even if it’s just in the notes app on your phone - what’s your caption going to say? What’s the purpose, what are you trying to accomplish? What’s your picture going to look like? How will you convey your message visually?
But make your stories natural and spontaneous. When something interesting happens, record it, take a picture, and share your thoughts about it. When an idea strikes, record a story. When your dog does something funny, post it. All of those things humanize you in the eyes of your audience and build the relationship you’re trying to build.
Last, it’s worth asking what you’re trying to accomplish. Eyes for the sake of eyes on your content is essentially worthless. Are you trying to leverage your audience so that you become a go-to person in a particular niche? Your comments and posts need to stay primarily in that world. You can’t be everything to everybody and there’s no sense in building an audience just for the sake of building an audience.